Hilton College has been criticised for its alleged aggressive recruitment of players from various Gauteng schools during the off-season.
Hilton is the most expensive school in South Africa, with fees topping the R250,000 mark, and it is believed players from schools across the country have been offered overblown bursaries to strengthen the sport structures at the institution.
Following a meeting last November, 11 headmasters from Gauteng schools sent a joint letter to Hilton in which they asked the KwaZulu-Natal school to refrain from poaching talented players.
KES principal David Lovatt told the Sunday Times that no specific player transfers were discussed at the meeting, but rather Hilton’s general recruitment practice.
‘The matter was raised by a number of schools who had been affected. It was agreed that a letter should be sent to Hilton College to ask them to desist from the practice of poaching.’
The Sunday Times reported that Hilton’s recruitment of top players and coaches in various sport codes is funded by a group of wealthy old boys, with the aim of making Hilton the top independent school on the continent in rugby, cricket, water polo and hockey. The biggest contributor from the group of former pupils is said to be Andrew Dunn, CEO of Richmark Holdings.
While Hilton’s new headmaster said the issue is private, Dunn confirmed his involvement as one of the school’s benefactors.
‘I am sure you are aware that most schools and universities rely heavily on various forms of benefaction, and it is both an honour and privilege for us to be in a position to contribute to this wonderful establishment,’ said Dunn.
Tinus Diedericks, chairman of the Golden Lions High Schools Rugby Association, says poaching is rife, but was quick to clarify that Hilton is a newcomer to the practice.
‘Everyone around them [Hilton] is achieving. Glenwood and Michaelhouse are doing well. That’s the reason Hilton want to improve their results. They want to improve their, let’s call it, visibility,’ Diedericks said.
Photo: Bishops Festiva/MycomLink