Schoolboy price tag too high
EXCLUSIVE: Following rumours regarding the supposed price tag being placed on talented Craven Week players, Tauriq Ebrahim spoke exclusively to Springbok Thinus Delport regarding the scouting of schoolboy players.
Delport, who now resides in the United Kingdom, attended the competition along with an unnamed retired professional player in the hope of spotting suitable candidates who would fit the mould of what overseas clubs would appreciate.
The rumour mill turned at full speed during the 2016 Craven Week and some reports suggested French scouts were willing to fork out sums of up to €4,000 (ZAR63,241) to secure a signing. However, Delport brushed that amount off as "not 100 percent true."
"The price tag is not 100 percent true, if they [the players] are really talented that is possible but it's not quite the correct case. The legislation in France regarding young players in the Academy system has changed, so the full fall-out of that is yet to be seen.
"There is money and opportunity about but it's going to be a rare case that a young player would receive that amount," Delport told rugby365.
The presence of overseas clubs looking to sign up young players is not something new, as they have consistently dipped their fingers into the vast talent pool of South Africa's schooling system over a number of years.
Delport stated that they had no mandate to sign any player on the spot but admitted that the bigger picture was to ensure the players are groomed in the European Academy systems, with the ultimate vision of becoming internationally qualified players.
"The main focus is to eventually boost the international team because all the countries have limitations in terms of overseas based players. The younger you can get the players involved, [the sooner] they will qualify to become an internationally qualified player - at this stage after playing three years in a domestic league.
"If a player heads over at the age of 18, by the time he is 21 or 22 - coming out of the Academy system - he will then be qualified to play senior rugby for that country but they need to at least have those three years in the Academy setup.
"We will see if World Rugby changes that ruling as there has plenty of talk, especially by Gus Pichot, about extending that period to be more in line with the immigration laws of those various countries.
"Depending on the size of the club, they will be in the Academy system. All the Premiership teams will have a dedicated Academy that is onsite with the senior team and will be integrated into the training sessions.
"They won't necessarily play for the first XV but will get the exposure to the coaching and all other resources," he added.
Delport stated that there is an abundance of talent at schoolboy level and the purpose of his, and other agencies' presence at the tournament, was to appreciate the talent and the potential they could have at an overseas-based club.
By Tauriq Ebrahim