EP won’t follow Border’s harsh policy

Cheeky Watson says EP won’t ban their top schoolboys who have signed with other unions from Craven Week selection this year.

Border announced their new Craven Week selection policy last week, which stated that they will not pick players who have committed to other unions after school. This could cost several boys from top rugby institutions in the region, like Queen’s, Dale and Selborne, an opportunity of featuring at the 2012 national U18 event that will be played in Port Elizabeth from 9-14 July.

EP president Watson said his union will not implement this ban, but will encourage schoolboys to continue their careers in the province.

‘Basically, we don’t sign schoolboy rugby players, but we do have our academy in place to accommodate young players and there is a ladder to follow, a chain of development to prepare them for first-class rugby,’ Watson told The Herald. ‘It is a player’s democratic right to follow his dreams and we would not stand in anyone’s way. We understand, too, that you cannot keep all the rugby talent in your province.

‘But we have seen tremendous success with our academy system with local players wanting to stay here. And we can keep players by having a [Super Rugby] franchise in PE.’

The Southern Kings will make their Super Rugby debut next year, and it is a development that will likely see the local unions (EP, Border and SWD) retain most of their top schoolboy talent. There are already players from local schools who entering the senior EP squad, like flyhalf Shane Gates (Muir), lock Reynier Barnardo (Framesby) and prop Brendan Olivier (Nico Malan).