KAMVA SOMDYALA says the current ranking systems are not accurate reflections of South African schools rugby.
Many schoolboy games produce lopsided results, apart from those involving ‘traditional’ rugby schools, which are strength versus strength (you typically find those up north).
A match becomes lopsided when a ‘traditional’ rugby school plays one that is not regarded as one. The situation gets even worse when a school plays a string of games against teams that featured in the top 20 a year ago, at a prestigious Easter tournament or festival, and then go back to their province and absolutely annihilate any team they play, because of the experience they have gained against top-quality opposition.
Schools rugby is meant to be a co-curricular activity for boys. There are, of course, schools that border on a rugby academy, and this is celebrated rather than denounced. These benefit the most from top 20 rankings, and I would imagine they take the rankings more seriously than most.
Herein lies the rub: rankings can never be seen as an accurate reflection of the rugby witnessed every Saturday.
Take for example a school that may go unbeaten against other schools from their province, only to suffer a loss at a festival against a school of equal strength. Meanwhile, another school from another province has a tough schedule against other sides from that province, several of whom make up the top 20 rankings each year. How can you rank those two schools, when the former has an easier schedule within their own province?
Selborne College, for instance, dominate fellow Eastern Cape schools and only really test themselves three times a year at festivals. Selborne also play more games than any other team in the top five of the rankings.
Co-owner of Rugby15, Nelio de Sa, explains their rankings system as follows: ‘It is important to understand that we do not “rank” schools. We merely provide a rugby-focused strength barometer’.
It seems that the websites that rank schools teams all use a different criteria and none will ever have the same top 20 rankings.
I would prefer a system that ranks teams in each province, rather than national rankings. That would make it easier to know which school is the best in a province, based on the number of games they have played, won and lost.
This may not be the perfect system, but at least it would give an accurate reflection of how good a school is in their province.
– Somdyala is a third-year student at Stellenbosch University
Final 2016 Rugby365 rankings:
1. Paarl Boys’ High
2. Grey College
4. Paarl Gym
5. Boland Landbou
7. EG Jansen
12. Paul Roos
18. Grey PE
20. Welkom Gimnasium
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images