The new contracting model implemented by SA Rugby as expected had a major impact on the amount of school players who received junior contracts from the unions.
Only 15 of the 26 players who represented the South African Schools' side earlier this year have been able to put pen to paper and further their careers with one of the South African unions.
Excluding the national Sevens Academy it seems that only 29 schools leavers managed to secure junior contracts within South Africa for 2020. A further three players Ian Small-Smith (Grey College), Tiaan Pretorius (Paul Roos Gimnasium) and Christiaan Smit (Ben Vorster) has confirmed that they will join the Sevens Academy in Stellenbosch.
The list of contracted players might increase as we could only confirm two players, Bobby Alexander (Paarl Gimnasium) and Dylan de Leeuw (Paul Roos Gimnasium), that have signed contracts with Western Province. Rumour has it that another two players might join the union in 2020.
Another two SA Schools' players of 2019, Keke Morabe (Welkom Gimnasium) and Connor Evans (Diocesan College), will only finish matric in 2020. Morabe had a couple of offers on the table, but made it clear that he will prioritise finishing his matric.
In the preceding years approximately 110 juniors received contracts from the Big Five unions (Blue Bulls, Western Province, Sharks, Golden Lions and Free State). The Bulls who traditionally was the biggest spenders on luring school player to join the union after school only signed four junior contracts for 2020.
Two of the four players Stravino Jacobs (Paarl Gimnasium) and Ethan Theart (Windhoek Gimnasium) was not in action during this year's Youth Weeks due to the fact that they were already u19. Two locks Raynard Roets (Garsfontein) and Tiaan de Klerk (Monument) are the two other players that managed to secure contracts with the Blue Bulls.
The Golden Lions signed the most junior contracts with six SA Schools' players Henco van Wyk (Monument), Jurich Claassens (Garsfontein), Sbu Shongwe (Jeppe), Tyler Bocks (Paarl Boys' High), Boldwin Hansen (Hermanus) and Quan Horn (Paarl Boys' High) all furthering their rugby careers in Johannesburg next year.
The Sharks also had a good harvest as they signed SA Schools' hooker and captain, Jacques Goosen, Jarrod Taylor, Mntungwa Mapantsela (all Selborne College), Blaine Golden (Glenwood) and Kian Meadon (Paarl Boys' High) to join them next year.
The Free State's scout, Melusi Mthethwa, only had a budget of R400K to lure exciting talent to move to Bloemfontein. Luckily Mthethwa is a very persuasive man who's track record speaks for itself and the Free State has a very impressive record of turning prospective talent into world class stars.
The Free State managed to lure SA Schools' and Paarl Boys' High's eighthman, Gideon van Wyk, to further his career in the City of Roses. Mthethwa also managed to convinced three promising props Nolan Pienaar (Menlopark), Kamshen Moss and Warren Louw (both Voortrekker, Bethlehem) to join the Cheetahs.
It seems the Kings had a bigger budget than usual or the smaller market made it possible for them to sign more juniors than usual. The SA Schools' winger/fullback of Stellenberg, Tharquinn Manuel, will move to the Friendly City. Other promising backs from around the country Nsuku Baloyi (Menlopark), Tiaan Swanepoel (Paarl Gimnasium) and Tiaan Botes (Helpmekaar) will all move to Port Elizabeth to further their careers.
The Contracted Juniors are:
Blue Bulls (4): Raynard Roets (Garsfontein), Tiaan de Klerk (Monument), Stravino Jacobs (Paarl Gimnasium), Ethan Theart (Windhoek Gimnasium).
Free State (7): Gideon van Wyk (Paarl Boys' High), Nolan Pienaar (Menlopark), Kamshen Moss (Voortrekker), Warren Louw (Voortrekker), MJ Janse van Rensburg (Affies), Zander du Toit (Helpmekaar), Tylon Kotze (EG Jansen).
Golden Lions (11): Henco van Wyk (Monument), Jurich Claassens (Garsfontein), Sbu Shongwe (Jeppe High School for Boys'), Allister Williams (Paarl Boys' High), Tyler Bocks (Paarl Boys' High), Quan Horn (Paarl Boys' High), Boldwin Hansen (Hermanus), Izan Esterhuizen (Monument), Munashe Chaitezwi (St Stithians College), Siyemukela Ndlovu (Northwood), Ngia Selengbe (King Edward VII).
EP Kings (4): Tharquin Manuel (Stellenberg), Nsuku Baloyi (Menlopark), Tiaan Swanepoel (Paarl Gimnasium), Tiaan Botes (Helpmekaar).
Sharks (6): Kian Meadon (Paarl Boys' High), Jacques Goosen (Selborne College), Ockie Barnard (Westville Boys' High), Jarrod Taylor (Selborne College), Blaine Golden (Glenwood), Mntungwa Mapantsela (Selborne College).
Western Province (2): Dylan Alexander (Paarl Gimnasium), Dylan de Leeuw (Paul Roos Gimnasium).
Sevens Academy (3): Ian Small-Smith (Grey College), Tiaan Pretorius (Paul Roos Gimnasium), Christiaan Smit (Ben Vorster).