The Blue Bulls Rugby Union will start a rugby college next year with the aim of strengthening its age-group levels as well as club rugby.
Students will enrol for one or two years with their base being at Loftus Versfeld and will be exposed to the professional coaching and conditioning structures at the Blue Bulls Company. They will also be trained as coaches and referees and will complete courses in rugby science and life-skills.
According to Johan Schoeman, general manager at the BBRU, the college will act as a vehicle to strengthen club and development rugby structures in the province. The students will be placed at clubs and will also assist with development clinics at schools and clubs in the province.
Students will have a high degree of focus on position specific analysis and tuition, mental toughness, rugby intelligence and skill development.
Mr Boet Fick, president of the Union said that the Bulls hope to retain the services of talented youngsters who otherwise might have been lost to the Union. “The college will act as a vehicle to accommodate the late developer and create a structure wherein both professional and amateur rugby can compliment one another.”
Sports promoter, Willem Strauss will act as a consultant for the BBRU on the project, said that the rugby college offers quality rugby education and gives young rugby players and coaches a foundation to prepare themselves for the world of professional rugby.
According to Strauss who also runs a talent identification programme at a number of schools in Pretoria and Limpopo there is a need for a rugby to accommodate talented players from outside the so-called “super schools”.
“In terms of research I did last year, 91% of school leavers in Pretoria do not continue to play rugby and are thus lost to rugby. The rugby college will be a ‘cool’ entity that the younger generation will identify with.”
Strauss also said that because players are contracted at an even younger age, players who are not offered contracts feel they are “out of the mix” and may lead to them retiring at a young age. The rugby college offers an alternative to these talented players and late developers.