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“A long and hard-fought dream come true” – this is how Mervyn Green, SARU’s General Manager: Development expressed the general sentiment of rugby administrators attending the historic launch of the SARU/SWD Eagles Rugby Academy at Nelson Mandela University’s George Campus on Wednesday evening.


The Academy – a partnership between SA Rugby, SA Lottery Fund, SWD Eagles and NMMU George Campus (Saasveld) - enrolled its first group of 21 talented rugby players from the Southern Cape/ SWD region and has been in operation since January 2013.

“This kite will fly”, Green said in his opening address. He mentioned that NMMU George Campus offers world-class infrastructure, with everything being compact and in close proximity – a radius of barely 500m. He also reiterated that the investment of the Academy was much broader than only developing rugby talent. Indeed, the focus was the holistic development of individual players, including equipping them with life-skills and formal qualifications that will enable them to pursue future careers.

He emphasised that work ethic was very important and encouraged everyone to work hard. He also acknowledged that the timelines for the project to deliver star players was short, and that the pressure to succeed was on.

He also acknowledged the sterling efforts of the core team members involved in getting the project off the ground, and in managing it. He, amongst others, complimented Academy Manager, Johan Lehrm, for being not only an excellent coach in his own right, but a very good administrator.

Martin Loubser, Acting Campus Principal, NMMU George, pointed out that the value systems of NMMU and the Academy complemented each other. He encouraged the boys to live by these values – taking responsibility, integrity, respect for diversity and the natural environment, pursuing excellence and Ubuntu – reaching out and treating others as you would like to be treated. He also mentioned that the Academy’s focus on developing local talent complements NMMU’s vision to contribute to the economic development of the region.

SWD President, Hennie Baartman, reassured parents that their children were in “good hands” and encouraged the youngsters to appreciate and nurture the Academy and to fully utilise the opportunities it offers.

Head coach, Deon Davids, confirmed that the monetary investment in the four academies that have already been launched amounts to between R4 and R5 million annually. This is carried by SA Lottery and SARU.

The SARU/SWD Eagles Rugby Academy is a full-time residential academy system, with a full-time staff complement providing coaching, education, medical and mentoring support. Its vision is to produce Super Rugby players in a period of three years by means of exceptional work ethic. Excellence, passion, loyalty, trust, integrity, discipline and humility are the values that the Academy encourages amongst its members. The Academy aims to produce future professional players for the SWD Eagles and SA Rugby. It hopes to retain at least 60% of the 2013 players into 2014.

BCom and BEd-degrees, and National Diplomas in Management; Tourism Management and Agricultural Management are some of the qualifications which Academy members have enrolled for at NMMU.

SARU team

Photograph: 2051: (Back from left to right) Martin Loubser, Acting Campus Principal at Nelson Mandela University’s George Campus; Mervyn Green, SARU General Manager, Development; Hennie Baartman, SWD President; Johan Prinsloo, CEO;

(Front, f.l.t.r.) Deon Davids and Johan Lehrm - respectively Head Coach and Manager of the SARU/SWD Eagles Rugby Academy hosted at NMMU George.

 SARU team2

2054: Bruce Beckett, representing the National Lottery which is co-funding the Academy: Hans Scriba MD of the Sharks Academy, and one of the consultants to the SARU/SWD Eagles Academy, Johan Lehrm, Mervyn Green, Martin Loubser and Deon Davids.

Contact information
Ms Alet van Tonder
Manager: Marketing & Corporate Relations
Tel: 27 44 801 5098