UK Sport South African Rugby Exchange programme thrivesSubscribe
UK Sport 21 September 2011
This autumn the eyes of the world are on the events unfolding at the Rugby Football World Cup in New Zealand and already there is high drama in the Group Stage matches, with some mouth-watering contests yet to come. Whilst the world’s best compete it is therefore encouraging to know that behind the scenes the seeds of Rugby’s future global development are taking root through an initiative supported by UK Sport.
As part of the Memorandum of Understanding between UK Sport and the South African government, the South African Rugby Union is placing players with rugby clubs across the UK in order to help young players, particularly those from communities that have not traditionally played the game, to develop in the sport.
Richard de Jager, International Exchange Co-ordinator of the SA Rugby Union, says: “This programme, which forms part of the UK Sport and Sports and Recreation South Africa MOU, is running well, and showing that such relationships can work and make a difference in the lives of players and officials.”
The ten placements agreed for the scheme so far this season encompass both men’s and women’s rugby and the exchanges are designed to bring mutual benefits to the UK and South Africa. The UK clubs hosting talent from the men’s game include Sale Sharks who are planning to take one young player, Ayr RFC from the Scottish First Division, who are taking two young players and the Welsh Premier Division club Tonamur, who also plan to take on two young players. Elsewhere Ulster is hosting four young female and one young male player. In 2010, two players from Wasps travelled to South Africa and both of those players are now playing rugby at Guinness Premiership Level.
Further opportunities involving three other English clubs are under discussion and both De Jager and UK Sport are pleased that the programme is showing good growth. Debbie Lye, Director of International Development at UK Sport, says: “The UK clubs get a boost from young players with a lot of desire and raw talent, and the South African visitors are exposed to regular competition and to new coaching environments.”
Find out more about UK Sport's work in International Development.