Editorial comment – Nurturing young ruggers

The winning Ratu Kadavulevu School under 18 team. Most of these players have been named in the national under 18 squad to tour New Zealand later this year. Picture: FILE

THE victory and the manner in which it was achieved by Ratu Kadavulevu School in the final of the under-18 grade of the Deans Trophy competition is turning heads. Sceptics are wondering whether there is something available for RKS mentor Nacanieli Saumi to do at Rugby House.
If it hasn’t already sunk in, they are wondering whether there is a place for such a coach in the development process.
Surely the record set by this Tailevu boarding school is second to none.
To coach teams of relatively unknown players, and mould them into winning combinations in every grade from under-14 through to under-19 last year, and better still, repeat the amazing effort this year except in the under-17 grade says a lot for Saumi.
He is the man behind the scenes, the architect of an amazing resurgence in schoolboy rugby.
Last year the boys from Delainakaikai created history, making a clean sweep in the Deans Trophy competition.
In May this year, the RKS U18 side became the first Fiji school side to win the Sanix World Youth tournament in Japan.
They defeated Hastings Boys High School of New Zealand 35-5 in the final. They led 14-0 at half-time. The win was a major step up from their third place in 2002.
There was no doubt about the fact that the RKS U18 side rode on the back of the exposure at the Sanix tournament to anchor another impressive year at the top of the schoolboys competition this year.
They looked like true champions.
Cuvu College, the lone finalists from the West deserve accolades as well for making it into the top level of the competition.
However, it was difficult to get past the polished campaign by RKS.
They were too confident and composed under pressure to ever give the game away in the final of the U18 grade.
They effectively have set a benchmark that will not be easy to emulate.
The challenge now for the movers and shakers of the sport is to put in place a pathway for these young men to make the transition to the Flying Fijians.
Understandably lucrative international contracts will always beckon our young ruggers.
This begs the question, where to from here for our young rugby players once they finish from the Deans competition?
Do we have an effective pathway that grooms them well enough to make the transition to the top notch of the game here?
And while we are at it, one wonders whether the governing body would embrace Saumi’s expertise in the nurturing process of our youngsters across all grades of the sport.
Congratulations are in order for all ruggers who made it to the finals of the Deans competition on Saturday in Suva.

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