Nine Junior Springbok stars were among the half-century of emerging young players who were taught a thing or two by REF (the Rugby Education Foundation) in 2018 after winning education bursaries through the SA Rugby-run programme.
Junior Springbok prop Alulutho Tshakweni (Sports Management) and centre Rikus Pretorius (Sports Administration and Coaching) were among a handful of SA Under-20 players who were REF bursary recipients, with the group also including Xerox Golden Lions flanker Mandisi Mthiyane (Marketing Management).
They formed part of the SA Rugby Academy Programme which aims to balance formal education with high performance training and player welfare. The foundation, which was launched in October 2015 thanks to the vital support from corporates, have assisted over 100 players with bursaries to date.
The recipients are identified in consultation with scouts, school coaches, provincial rugby unions, as well as SA Rugby high performance staff. Given the success of the programme to date, the aim for 2019 is to assist 75 players with education bursaries.
“Education is the backbone of society, and when one combines this with sport, we are able to develop and uplift the youth of South Africa and make an impact,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“That is essentially what the Rugby Education Foundation aims to achieve. This programme has and will continue to make a big difference in the lives of individuals and greater society in general in the years to come as we assist in developing more rounded individuals.”
A total of 75% of the programme’s recipients this year were players of colour, contributing significantly to SA Rugby’s transformation process. Their studies included various degrees, national diplomas, national certificates and short courses, while they were also exposed to life skills and mentorship programmes and regular tutor sessions.
“I would like to thank the corporates who have assisted us in making a difference in the last three years for their generous support and commitment to changing the lives of some of our talented young rugby players,” said Roux. “They are assisting our young players in building a bright future outside of the game in the years to come.
“The more players we can assist with bursaries the bigger the impact we can make, and we will continue to work hand-in-hand with corporate South Africa to achieve this.”