Former Boks weigh in

2014-08-26 00:00

TWO former Springboks have entered the Hilton and Glenwood schoolboy rugby fray, ­raising concerns about the sport’s extreme level of professionalism.

Weekend Witness reported the schools’ headmasters had agreed to cancel the tie indefinitely last week.

Hilton cited the increasing “professionalism” of Glenwood boys and the inherent risk of injury as their main reason for its decision to pull the plug.

Former Springbok captain Gary Teichmann and ex-Springbok hooker John Allan said while they respected the decision it may have been premature to cancel the fixture.

Hilton headmaster Peter Ducasse had said that “Glenwood’s fairly recent strategy has, in our firm opinion, now moved them into a different league” and also cited an “increased risk of injury” for the decision.

Discussions have since raged on social media platforms and websites. Everything from injury concerns, professionalism, doping and player poaching has been raised.

Teichmann, a Hilton Old Boy, said he was surprised to hear the news but thinks it is not without reason.

“I do believe certain schools are approaching sport in a different way,” Teichmann said.

The ex-Bok, who captained the side in 36 of his 42 appearances, said he looked forward to playing bigger schools as a teenager.

“Private schools like Hilton and Michaelhouse may be underdogs but if in my day we had stopped playing other schools, I would have been disappointed.”

He could not comment on the decision itself before looking at results across the board in the last five years to make a fair assumption.

“However, it seems like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction after recent results.”

He is worried schools are taking sport to extreme levels.

“Pushing kids to be semi-professional at a young age is not the right way.

“Back in the day you went through the army, then into club rugby and age group levels,” he said.

The decline of club rugby may be a symptom of this and Teichmann believes it needs to be addressed.

“I have been saying it for some time that something needs to be done as club rugby is dying. It used to be a big part of the system, I only made it into the Sharks side when I was 24,” he said.

Overall, Teichmann thinks the trend of professionalism takes away from traditional rivalries in schoolboy rugby and Allan agreed with his sentiments.

“I understand where Hilton are coming from. The problem is that schools’ sport is basically professional, far more so than club rugby,” the former Glenwood pupil said.

However, Allan believes that all schools need to develop coaching across school age groups.

“I feel like Hilton have not made that commitment. They need to find a director of rugby or up-skill their coaches across the board,” he said.

Meanwhile, Glenwood are somewhat a polar opposite and Allan believes the school’s decision to develop a superior first team came from pressure from old boys and other parties.

He is concerned that their top teams compete well against big schools but their lower teams are beaten badly.

Allan also believes pressure to forge a rugby career may lead to supplement abuse.

“I don’t believe coaches would advocate steroids. But there is no doubt that every single school will have some players that will use banned substances,” he said.

Both Old Boys believe that at the end of the day schools, clubs and rugby unions must foster rugby development.

Part of that is ensuring that schoolboy rugby is evenly matched.

“I think Hilton are taking a breathing space and I hope that the fixture will return in time,” Allan concluded.

Sally Byrne Beattie: This is schoolboy rugby, not professional rugby! I think Glenwood is offside by taking their rugby up to a level where schools don’t want to compete with them. That is not what sport at school level is about.

Vee Puler van Staden: Good on Hilton for bravely taking a stand.

Stewart Nolan: Oh please. What are Hilton teaching their boys - that giving up and throwing in the towel after several losses is ok? What happened to trying harder next year? It’s not like Glenwood are using illegal tactics are they? 21yr old players? I thought not.

Bernice Burden: The decision was reached by mutual agreement after discussion by the principals of both schools.

Sally Byrne Beattie: Schoolboy Rugby needs to be more controlled. Glenwood has started a trend that is going to cause major injuries on the field. I think Hilton did the right thing. Players need to be at the same level as each other...

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