South African schools' rugby is approaching a crossroads in the near future.
Will the game at schoolboy level be run within a professional structure with a national champion being crowned or will the game at this level stay in a more developmental role as it has done up to this point?
Carl Fabian, owner of Ruggas.co.za, rival school rugby website of School of Rugby announced through a press release on Sunday that they have been working behind the scenes to establish a formal "SA Schools Rugby Challenge".
Six of South Africa's top rugby schools Grey College of Bloemfontein, Paarl Boys' High, Monument of Krugersdorp, Paarl Gimnasium, Garsfontein of Pretoria and Paul Roos Gimnasium agreed to further negotiations that will ultimately lead to the establishment of what is dubbed the most competitive schoolboy rugby challenge in the world.
The competition is planned to run on a similar tiered system as the Virsekerbeker with eight schools that will form Tier 1. The competition is planned to be launched in 2021.
"The initial invites took into account the schools' current fixture lists and workload. Great care was also taken to guarantee that historical fixtures will not be affected during the initial period. It is, however, the organisers intend to involve all qualifying schools before the end of 2022," states the press release.
All eight schools will face each other annually with the teams from u14C to First XV taking each other on.
The former High-Performance Manager of the Golden Lions, Bart Schoeman, will act as chairman during the negotiations with the schools and guide the process for the initial three years.
The terms of the series will be negotiated with the following guidelines that were established during the past months:
1. The "challenge" will only take place from 2021 onwards.
2. The establishment of a second-tier of competing schools from 2022 onwards.
3. Promotion/Relegation between the two tiers from 2023 onwards.
4. The minimum teams a school must field is three teams per age group and four in the u/19 age group.
5. "Developing" schools will be "adopted" to help ensure that all the teams of the participating schools will have fixtures at any stage. Parel Vallei Hoërskool has been confirmed as the first development school.
6. Eligibility of players - No player will be allowed to participate in this series at the u/19 age group who are not enrolled at his new school within the first two weeks after the commencement of his first grade 11 school year. A committee will be appointed who will evaluate each transfer that does not comply.
7. Coaches of the competing schools will make them available for free coaching clinics specifically aimed at developing coaches to assist in the development of rugby at all rugby playing schools.
8. The traditional fixtures and values of participating schools are to be respected.
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