Letter to the Editor – Weekend Argus in 2009
We wish to respond to the article published in the Weekend Argus of 29 August 2009 under the headline: “WP deny they are slow off the mark”. Firstly, the article inferred that our school SACS criticized certain aspects of WP rugby policy. I wish to state categorically that we are not one of the schools who questioned Western Province Rugby’s selection policies or their commitment to nurturing or contracting local players.
In the article, though, WP Manager of Junior Rugby, Jacques Hanekom, amongst other things, questions our schools commitment to producing talented players (presumably for Western Province Rugby).
Mr. Hanekom is quite correct. We are not at all committed to producing talented players for Western Province Rugby. The way we see it, we owe Western Province Rugby absolutely nothing. We are in the business of education and thus we see our job to serve our stakeholders and produce well-rounded individuals. As the oldest school in the country and one of only four in South Africa to hold a Rhodes Scholarship, we pride ourselves on producing gentlemen with a balance of academic, sporting and cultural prowess. Producing talented rugby players may be a by-product of what we do but it certainly isn’t what we are about.
He is also partly correct when he states that we didn’t send any boys to zonal trials this year. We only sent three boys from our current U16 division. That was because we felt that we didn’t have players good enough to play Craven Week this year. We had three players in the WP Under-16 team last year and they are on the WP books already and get invited to trials and Elite squad sessions by the Union.
One of those three boys went on to make the WP U18 Academy team this year. Against our counsel he withdrew himself from the team in order to play for the school in the Cape Schools Week Festival. It was his choice entirely and one for which we feel he should be lauded, not admonished. He is from an under-privileged community in the Eastern Cape and is on a scholarship at the school. The school has invested heavily in him in terms of money, time and effort over the past four years (he is still in Grade 11) and he chose to represent his school. Loyalty and gratitude are traits that we are seeing less and less of in society and this boy is a credit to both his family and his school.
For the record though the South African College High School (SACS) has produced South Africa’s most capped Springbok and 2007 Rugby World Cup winner, Percy Montgomery, has two current SA Sevens squad members, Paul Delport and Kyle Brown, while Ross Skeate and Isma-eel Dollie recently left WP to further their careers overseas. In addition another old boy, Liam Slatem is the incumbent WP Under-21 scrumhalf, so I would suggest we are more than pulling our weight when it come to producing talented players for the Union.