The three-year cycle of the Coca-Cola Schools of Excellence rugby development programme will culminate in four rugby festivals in the Central, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape regions in the coming months as the project reaches an exciting finale for the current group of players.
The Central festival, which features six schools – Leseding, Kutlwanong, Tsotsoletso, Sehunelo, Concordia, and Homevale High Schools – which will see each team face one another once, will be hosted at the Bronville Community Stadium in Welkom on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 June.
The Gauteng festival will follow on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 June, at Queens High School in Johannesburg, where 10 schools from the Limpopo Blue Bulls, Blue Bulls, Pumas, Golden Lions, Valke and Leopards rugby unions will participate.
The current cycle of the programme, which was launched in 2012 and is sponsored by Coca-Cola and facilitated by SA Rugby’s Rugby Department, started in 2015. The objective is to provide a functional and measurable rugby assistance and skills development programme.
A total of 40 schools participated in the project in partnership with their respective rugby unions’ development departments and officers.
In the first year of the programme, capacity building, sending coaches on courses and the supply of equipment were the focus areas, while the players were the focus in the second year, with the main elements being conditioning education and working with the players to improve their fitness levels.
This year marks the third and final year of the current cycle of the programme, and the rugby on the field is the main aim. It involves getting the children to play as much rugby as possible, culminating in the various rugby festivals.
The next three-year cycle, which will also feature 40 schools, will kick off in 2019.
The other two festivals will take place in August and September. The Eastern Cape Festival will feature 10 schools from the Border and Transkei areas, while the Western Cape Festival will include 10 schools from Boland and Western Province. Eastern Province and SWD will host separate festivals.
Such has been the success of the Coca-Cola Schools of Excellence programme a total of 41 children who participated in the programme’s current cycle were selected for SA Rugby Youth tournaments from Under-15 to Under-18 level last year.
Adding to the significance of the festivals, Elite Player Development (EPD) scouts will attend the respective tournaments, and promising players could be invited to participate in the SA Rugby High Performance Camp in September.