In the wake of recent issues with overage players being fielded at schools’ level, the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) says they may have been fooled in previous games and tournaments. But representatives are aware of the extremes to which some players will go to manipulate the system, and strongly reiterate their commitment to the participants’ safety under their VUKA rugby development umbrella.
SARLA CEO, Stefan Terblanche, said “We can’t deny that in certain instances, players who were overage have come through the system. But because of it, we are now able to make our selection process more watertight than it has ever been before. We can`t point any fingers, but we have been made aware of players coming through our ranks that have been guilty of such misdemeanours.
Unfair play in any form is something that myself and SARLA feel very strongly about. It is our responsibility to ensure that every player is on an even playing field and competes on equal footing with his or her peers.
We will do everything in our power to stop overage players from entering any of our programmes or competitions. And we will adopt the exact same no tolerance policy with performance enhancing drugs. I think the time has come to take a brutal approach to these issues, as they damage the game in very serious ways.
Parents can rest assured that, when their children participate in VUKA and Iqhawe Week structures, they are safe and protected by our strict regulations, which are all designed with the players’ best interests at heart.”
Jesreal Claassen, National Head for VUKA Rugby said, “These extremely unfortunate incidents go against the true spirit of great sportsmanship that VUKA represents. We owe it to the kids who participate in the programme to make sure that they get the best chance they can possibly have at excelling in their sport and in their lives.
We will continue to adhere to SA Rugby’s strict admittance guidelines for players and will be initiating the appropriate tests wherever a player’s integrity is in any doubt. Where necessary, as has been the case in the recent past, bone density tests can help determine the player’s age beyond a shadow of a doubt, even if documents such as birth certificates have been falsified. We will implement these tests when and where they are deemed necessary.
That is not to say that we will be excluding any players. We are committed to making sure that players are placed into their appropriate age groups so that they can participate in the sport that they love among kids their own age, who are equally as passionate about rugby.”
VUKA is geared towards helping talented young people flourish through sports development and fair opportunity for all. VUKA graduates will ideally leave the programme as well-rounded sportspeople who have been provided with a safe, nurturing platform to explore their dreams of a better life.
SARLA hopes to maintain VUKA’s upward trajectory in changing lives through sport and the principles of fair play, seeing South Africa’s young talent flourish in years to come. To stay up to date with future developments, follow the SA Rugby Legends on Facebook. And for more information, please visit www.sarugbylegends.com