Alicedale’s rugby stakes rise

The small rural town of Alicedale in the Eastern Cape is the new home of SA Rugby’s proposed multi-million rand National Rugby Institute.

Alicdale beat Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Municipal University in the two-horse race, and the decision can be seen as further appeasement for the Spears debacle.

It is likely that money intended for the Spears will now be channelled to Alicedale as Saru attempt to fix the mess in the Eastern Cape, by building from the bottom up instead of vice versa.

“This is part of our commitment to rugby in the Eastern Cape, and in the whole country,” SA Rugby Union deputy president Mike Stofile said.

“The Eastern Cape is the home of black rugby. By establishing the centre, we hope to groom specifically black players.”

Stofile said the initiative came after an intensive investigation into the rugby affairs of England, New Zealand and Australia. “We won’t duplicate their models, but ours will, in fact, be an improvement on theirs,” he said.

“We hope that Eastern Province, Border and South Western Districts rugby will benefit to enable the dream of the Spears to be realised.”

The aim of the institute and high-performance centre was to develop and give opportunities to post-matric youngsters who wanted to become professional rugby players.

SA Rugby financial director Basil Haddad said funding details had not been finalised and he could not speculate on how much the project would cost.

Construction would be divided into two phases, the first of which is a training camp site. It was expected to be completed by January next year.

Phase two will include a high-performance centre which will accommodate between 30 and 40 boys annually. The first intake will be in January, 2008.