On the back of Edinburgh signing Jordan Venter from South Africa there has been a lot of chatter criticising the club for denying local talent an opportunity and for allegedly not helping the national side.
I don’t accept local talent is being denied. If they were good enough they’d be chosen. What possible reason would the club have to select someone from South Africa if they considered he wasn’t as talented as a lad from say Prestonpans? Let’s face it if those players existed Edinburgh would save themselves all this grief and expense by just signing them instead.
Richard Cockerill’s oft-repeated mantle is that you should stay in the fight. If the fight is for a pro rugby contract should rejection lead to giving up? What happened to try, try, again?
Equally if you are only playing rugby in the hope of a pro contract then your priorities may have gone a little awry. This is elite sport, not everyone gets chosen and it really doesn’t matter what the sport is there is always someone who ‘could have been a contender’.
Cockerill has brought through some decent SQ players lately. Darcy Graham, Luke Crosbie, George Taylor to name just a few and if you acknowledge that you have to accept its talent he respects and not flags.
I understand the disappointment that people feel when their son is not selected but you have to be honest with yourself. Would you want them to be picked just because they live close to the ground?
My own son was asked by his guidance teacher what he wanted to do when he was an adult and said ‘I want to play rugby for Scotland’.
He didn’t achieve his dream but that’s no different than 99% of all the others who had the same ambition. There are plenty of people who play rugby just for fun.
Let’s take a couple of anonymous examples (very thinly disguised)
Player A. Born in England, schooled in England. Has a Fife born grandmother so qualifies to play for Scotland.
Player B, Born in South Africa, Schooled in SA. His mum is English so he holds an English passport. Not qualified to play for Scotland until he satisfies residency requirements.
Neither of these players have come through the Scottish system, neither are Scottish and both could be described as denying locals an opportunity but one attracts huge amounts of negative publicity and the other is welcomed as the next messiah. Go figure.
As an Edinburgh supporter I don’t care if the player comes from the moon. If the coaches think he can improve the team then he gets my vote.
As a Scotland supporter if someone wants to come and live here for the required period to become Scots qualified then that player also gets my vote.
Let’s be realistic. Edinburgh and Glasgow exist to support the national side. They are franchises and not clubs in the true sense of the word. Rivalry between them is encouraged but only up to a point and after that it’s censored.
To support the national side properly though I think they need to be successful. What use to international rugby are poorly motivated players who lose a lot of club games?
Club success means you have to be pragmatic and pick players not because of their origins but because of their talent and on occasion because of their price.
For all the criticism, Edinburgh’s Scots qualified ratio is still around 73% and as this year moves on that percentage will rise as Duhan van Der Merwe and Jaco Van Der Walt both join that group.
There are only around 12 players on Edinburgh’s roster for season 20 -21 not SQ. In among that group are Pierre Schoeman and Bill Mata.
Would we really want to deny the club those guys because of where they were born?