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Smart choices Junior Boks have made

SPOTLIGHT: Recently, a group of renowned Springboks clowned around about their lack of academic performance.

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During a recording of an episode of the Boks Office series, host Hanyani Shimange, Springbok legends Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger, as well as guest Robbie Fleck boastfully bantered about the fact that none of them completed university.

They all achieved greatly on the playing field, but not all players achieve legendary status in the game and can continue making a living out of the sport after retiring.

The main reason why so many players ‘drop out’ of their higher education expeditions is because of the demands on time the sport places on the young men.

However, there is an establishment that appears to be bucking the trend.

Stadio Higher Education – the official education partner of Western Province, the Blue Bulls and Sharks – has the rare distinction that six of their students have been selected for the Junior Springbok tour to Australia.

The Baby Boks departed South Africa on Wednesday, where they will take part in the inaugural Under-20 Rugby Championship tournament in Australia.

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The inaugural SANZAAR tournament will be played in May on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

The Championship will see the up-and-coming stars of Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa do battle.

The Baby Bok team features hooker Juan Small (Bulls), prop Mbasa Maqubela (Bulls), outside back JC Mars (Western Province), prop Zachary Porthen (WP), loose forward Divan Fuller (WP) and outside back Joel Leotlele (WP) – all of whom study at Stadio.

The institution can even boast four players currently featuring in the United Rugby Championship – Stormers utility forwards Evan Roos and Willie Engelbrecht, as well as Sharks hooker Dan Jooste and flank James Venter.

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Add in Paul de Villiers, the WP loose forward who captained the Junior Boks last year, and you can see that studying while playing is a realistic option.

Then there is Stadio’s performance on debut at the University Sports South Africa Sevens tournament at the Sol Plaatjie University in Kimberley.

As newcomers, they started in the Second Tier, B Division and dominated.

Stadio beat North-West University’s Vaal Campus 40-5 in the Final to win the B Division and earned promotion to the A-division Рwhere they will compete against the top-tier university teams later this year.

Stadio 7s

Stadio mentor and coach Eugene Eloff, a two-time former junior World Cup-winning coach, has always been a strong advocate for young players to obtain a higher education and qualification – or at the very least some skills outside of the game that will stand them in good stead.

“There is life after rugby,” Eloff told @rugby365com, adding: “Players, agents, coaches and parents need to emphasize that.

“Playing is not guaranteed and too many uncontrolled factors can influence or change that dream.

“However, players must never stop dreaming and must chase their goals.”

Stadio CEO & coach

An institution like Stadio makes it possible for professional players, women and men, to live their sporting dreams while achieving a higher education.

“Stadio’s vision is to widen access to quality higher education for more individuals,” Stadio CEO Chris Vorster said.

“It is fantastic to see this playing out in practice by enabling these talented individuals to pursue their sporting dreams, whilst equipping them with skills which go beyond the rugby field.

“We are super proud of these players and wish them all the best for the tournament.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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