More youngsters join Midlands Sharks Academy

2019-01-30 06:00
KZN Rugby Union president Schalk Liebenberg makes a welcome speech to the Sharks Midlands Academy 2019 Intake at Woodburn Rugby Stadium yesterday.PHOTO: sithembiso dindi

KZN Rugby Union president Schalk Liebenberg makes a welcome speech to the Sharks Midlands Academy 2019 Intake at Woodburn Rugby Stadium yesterday.PHOTO: sithembiso dindi

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AFTER enjoying success in their maiden operations last year, the Midlands Sharks Academy expect greater achievements in 2019, says Midlands Rugby Sub Union president Piet Herbst.

The academy held an official opening ceremony for the new year’s activities on Tuesday, with KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union president Schalk Liebenberg present at the event.

The academy was opened last year with 24 budding rugby players.

On Tuesday, Herbst announced that this year they have accepted 60 youngsters and this bodes well for their plan to strengthen club rugby in the Midlands.

Herbst said that, apart from helping the youngsters further their academic aspirations while developing their rugby potential, the academy had managed to create a pool of U20 players in the region.

The players from the academy represented Midlands in the KZN U20 League in Division A, where they finished fifth in the eight-team league.

“In 2018 we identified 10 boys from previously-disadvantaged backgrounds and we gave them full bursaries — and JP Smit, the manager, went to recruit 14 more boys and we finished the year with 24 boys,” said Herbst.

“They played rugby for the Midlands U20 team, which was a composite team because we had a problem in the Midlands where U20 players disappeared and we thought if we started the academy we could get the U20 players back in the area.

“I think we were very successful in that because the Midlands U20 team beat College Rovers — who won the league — twice in the two games we played against them last season,” he said.

Herbst revealed that this year they intend having at least two U20 teams to compete in the provincial league that has two divisions.

“This year we have got 60 students, so we are hoping to field two teams in the U20 league.

“I think it will be Midlands and UKZN Midlands in terms of their names,” he said.

“At the moment there are seven teams in the U20 A Division and eight teams in the U20 B, so we are hoping to fill that empty space and have two teams in the Midlands entering this year.

“I think it’s going to be a great success and it’s going to strengthen club rugby.

“Our aim is that with these boys, after U20, they must join their club of choice.”

Herbst said the window to join academy was still open and those interested must visit the website: www.sharksacademymidlands.co.za or e-mail mrsu@xsinet.co.za, or call him at 083 232 4938.

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