Saru has investigated the Boland Rugby Union following a life-long injury to a minor in a senior club rugby match.
Johan Botha, 17, will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair after sustaining a serious injury playing for Montagu RFC third team against Verenigde RFC on 27 June. Four other serious cases have been reported this year already, of which three players ending up as quadriplegics.
A task team, which includes Dr Wayne Viljoen (BokSmart National Rugby Safety Programme Project Manager) and Gail Ross (Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund General Manager), have questioned the Boland Rugby Union and Montagu RFC to find out why under-age players were allowed to feature for a senior team.
The Boland Rugby Union officially does not allow players under the age of 18 years to play in senior rugby matches under any circumstances. However, the task team found that Boland rugby clubs struggled to meet the requirements of three senior teams and therefore they used schoolboys to fill the numbers.
The task team have now suggested solutions, which include the requirements of senior teams be reduced to two and the development of an U19 side.
‘The issues around prevention, treatment and management of serious or catastrophic injuries in the Boland region, as it currently stands, will require more than one workshop to rectify the situation,’ said Dr Viljoen.
‘This is the first of many workshops to ensure that rugby within Boland becomes safer, and the risk of injury and the inappropriate management of these injuries are reduced.’
Botha will receive ongoing assistance from the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, while Saru and the IRB are now currently in the process creating new and stricter policies to prevent under-age players from appearing in senior matches.