Recent articles and comments have highlighted the apparent dependence of rugby on the players coming out of private schools (especially GPS), and how those same private schools are increasingly drifting away from rugby as their one and only sport.
This caused me to pull out my Waratahs program for 2009 (which my wife hasn’t made me throw away yet. See honey, there was a reason for keeping it!), and check the origins of the various players this year.
Given NSW does tend to produce the lions’ share of players in Australia, they are likely to give a pretty good guide on this issue.
They were, in the main squad of 30:
Phil Waugh – Shore
Ben Batger – Kings
Al Baxter – Shore
Kurtley Beale – St Josephs
Luke Burgess – St Josephs
Will Caldwell – Kings
Matt Carraro – St Josephs
Tom Carter – Knox
David Dennis – Richmond High School
Matt Dunning – Northolm Grammar
Scott Fava – Kiama?
Adam Freier – Waverley College
Daniel Halangahu – Kings
Rob Horne – Georges River College
Sekope Kepu – Wesley College (NZ)
Ben Mowen – Villanova College (QLD)
Dean Mumm – Kings
Ratu Nasiganiyavi – St Josephs College Nudgee (QLD)
Sam Norton-Knight – All Saints College, Gold Coast (QLD)
Dan Palmer – Warilla High School
Wycliff Palu – Balgowlah Boys High
Tatafu Polota-Nau – Granville South High
Beau Robinson – St Stanislaus College, Bathurst
Benn Robinson – Kings
Brett Sheehan – St Josephs
Timana Tahu – Cardiff High School
Chris Thomson – Marist College Canberra
Jeremy Tilse – St Josephs
Lote Tuqiri – Sunnybank State High (QLD)
Lachie Turner – Newington
Academy – Professional (8)
Ben Coridas – Westfield Sports High
Kane Douglas – Maclean High
Damien Fitzpatrick – St Josephs
Ed Jenkins – Riverview
Sitiveni Mafi – Westfield Sports High
Ben McCalman – Kinross-Wollaroi School
Pat McCutcheon – St Josephs
Jeremy Su’a – Westfield Sports High
Academy – Non-Professional (16)
Kotoni Ale – St Augustine’s College, Brookvale
Damon Anderson – Cranbrook
Phoenix Anderson – Marist College, Canberra
Harry Bennett – Kings
Tim Bennetts – Pennant Hills High
Eddie Bredenhann – Anglican Church Grammar (QLD)
Josh Daley – The Southport School (QLD)
Greg Jeloudev – Kings
Mark Johnson – Kings
Michael MacDougall – Kings
Salesi Manu – St Augustine’s College, Brookvale
Cameron Mitchell – Kings
Sam Robertson – St Stanislaus College, Bathurst
Sam Latunipulli, Lachie McCaffrey & David Tautaiolefue – not disclosed
Leaving aside the pure league converts (Lote and Timana), we are dealing with an extended squad of 52. Ostensibly the best pick of NSW (leaving aside those playing for other states and in Europe).
Kings – 10 (19.23%)
St Josephs (Hunter Hill) – 7 (13.46%)
St Stannies – 2 (3.84%)
Shore, Know, Waverley College, Cranbrook, Newington, Riverview – 1 each (1.92%)
It appears the team is essentially a combined Kings/St Josephs team, with a third of the entire team! Of course, those two GPS schools are known as rugby nurseries.
Further, this becomes a self-perpetuating system, as those schools attract the best players.
However, the dependence on the GPS (and private schools generally) is worth noting. If those schools all started playing soccer or AFL tomorrow, where would rugby be (OK, joke – the committed rugby players would go to other schools).
It is worth noting the newer players coming out of St Augustine’s College and Westfield Sports (2 and 3 respectively).
What it shows to me is that if rugby in the traditional heartland of GPS and private schools is truly on the wane, then rugby may have a serious problem.
As we all know, many players carry on with the sport they play at school. If they aren’t playing rugby at school, will they play (or follow) it at all?
Further, it also begs the question, are there really so few, or so unskilled, players coming out of non-GPS schools? Or is it about being seen, or getting the opportunities from going to a “rugby” school, or do those players get snapped up by those schools from non-GPS schools?
Or so few non-GPS schools playing rugby?
Ultimately, the rugby powers that be need to be committing as much of their resources as possible to schools, and “brain washing” the kids (and parents of tomorrow) into playing rugby.
Give me the child until 10 and I’ll give you the man for life?
Give them to AFL, league or football, and never see them at all …