Springbok Sevens recruit schoolboy stars
Three of the most promising young players in South Africa have signed contracts to play the next two seasons on the IRB Sevens World Series for the Springbok Sevens.
The trio of SA Schools stars are William Small-Smith of Grey College and Free State and Craig Barry and Tshotsho Mbovane, both of whom hail from Paul Roos and represented Western Province at the recent Coca Cola Under 18 Craven Week in Welkom.
Barry is an attacking full back, while Small-Smith and Mbovane play at outside centre and all were selected for the SA Schools U18 team after shining for their respective provinces.
All three players are products of the SARU Under 18 High Performance programme and they will also represent the High Performance squad next week in three international fixtures against Under 18 teams from France, England and Namibia.
The players' two year contracts will start from 1 January 2011, giving them the chance to complete their final school year.
Sevens a new pro career path
With Rugby Sevens to be played at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Sevens coach Paul Treu has been on the look-out for the stars of tomorrow. In his mind, the signings signify the start a new career path for young professional rugby players in South Africa.
"It is crucial that we create opportunities for our many young promising players," Treu said.
"South Africa is blessed with so much talent and not every youngster can break into the senior ranks. These three players represent the start of a new direction for us and I am confident that the High Performance programme will deliver many more players of their calibre in the future.
"It would be great if we can go to the Olympics in 2016 and these three players are established players of the Springbok Sevens team."
SARU's Under 18 High Performance programme is spearheaded by Herman Masimla.
"SARU has established a HP system that acts as a pathway that reaches from junior level right to the senior ranks," he commented.
"This player pathway is based on the long term athlete development model, where players are identified and kept in the HP system for as long as possible."
The Springbok Sevens training squad assembles on Monday at their base in Stellenbosch.