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Quadrangular Tests for SA Schools

Wed, 26 Sep 2012 22:17
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Fitting the rugby in with school commitments may  provide pressures of its own. There may well be rugby value in all of this but the educational value may well be uncertain.

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Plans are afoot, it seems, for Australia to host a Four-Nations tournament for national school teams in 2013.

The impetus for the tournament has been from South Africa and when the Springboks were in New Zealand for the Rugby Championship recently, there was a meeting of men from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in Dunedin to advance their planning for the tournament, an exciting possibility.

Those involved in the talks were Brother Bob Wallace, a Christian Brother who is the chairman of Australian Schools, David Nucifora, Australia's high performance manager, Andrew Elliot of the Australian Schools executive, Garry Carnachan, the executive director of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council, Buck Anderson, the general manager of community in New Zealand and Mervin Green, SARU's manager of youth rugby.

The four nations would be Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji and the tournament would probably take place in September. Green says that plans include warm-up matches in which South Africa plays Australia A, New Zealand plays Fiji and Australia plays either Samoa or Tonga.

Following meeting,  the president of Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby Union, Paula Motu, told FijiLive that Fiji 'have been invited by the Australian Schools RU president to send a team next year'.

Motu said: “We have discussed this with the executives who are equally pleased with the opportunity."

'An invitation' suggests that the matter is really at a mature stage.

There is a proposal that Australia host the first tournament, South Africa the second and New Zealand the third. A possible schedule has been drawn up as far as 2021.

It would be a great opportunity for the development of young South African players, a process that started in 2010. That year Mervin Green announced the possibility of a Tri-Nations tournament for Under-18 teams  with Australia and New Zealand as the other participants. That year a South African Schools team was chosen and beat Namibia Under-19 92-21. But a South African Under-18 team, chosen by the national selectors, played France, England and a Namibian XV. They were players chosen from Craven Week and those who had not been to Craven Week.

Last year SA Schools beat France Under-19 but this year there was a serious change. Trial teams were chosen, mostly but not only of Craven Week players. The national selectors, Peter Jooste and Ian Macintosh, were inspanned in selection. Dawie Theron, the SA Under-20 coach, was involved. They chose a team that beat Under-18 teams from Wales, France and England. For some this is the way forward - away from just Craven Week players and the possibility of trade-offs in selection.

New Zealand and Australian schools have great opportunity for international experience. Australian Schools are at present on a five-match tour of Fiji and New Zealand. Every second year they go on tour to the UK and Ireland. There is a strong correlation between the New Zealand Schools team and its success - till this year - at the IRB's Junior World Championship.

South Africa has had fewer opportunities. There is only a small correlation between the South African Schools side and the Under-20 side. The Four-Nations tournament may go some way to changing that, though fitting the rugby in with school commitments may  provide pressures of its own. There may well be rugby value in all of this but the educational value may well be uncertain.

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