Rugby ranking online
New website rates first XV playersJESS LEE
A rugby enthusiast is using online tactics in a bid to bring young talent to the attention of selectors.
Herschel Fruean has set up his High School Top 200 website to profile great players from traditional rugby strongholds and less-established teams across the country.
The Mt Eden 29-year-old has been ranking first XV players on the site since last year in a bid to get them on the radar of selectors and into professional rugby.
The site's Facebook page was launched two months ago and has picked up more than 4300 "likes".
First XV rugby is a serious business and dominant Auckland schools spend thousands of dollars on their teams.
The New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council was forced to introduce tough anti-poaching rules to crack down on richer colleges luring star rugby talent from poorer ones.
Fruean's efforts are spurred on by the number of first XV players who never make it past the school gates.
"You've got so many kids around the country that people don't know exist," he says.
"I think every kid in rugby right now wants to be an All Black, or at least wants to play for the Blues or the Chiefs, and how do you do that?
"You just give them exposure."
Fruean gave up a fulltime job earlier this year to dedicate his time to the site.
He spends his weekends and many weeknights travelling to matches around the country, often at the request of young players who want to up their game.
Players send in videos of matches he can't attend so he can still give feedback.
"I want to see these guys develop in to professionals. My biggest day is going to be when I see a kid from my list make it to the pros."
The former Hamilton-based Church College First XV player watches the game from an analytical standpoint as opposed to that of a fan.
His long-term goal is to expand the website and Facebook page to include other sports like netball and cricket.
Fruean takes into account the schools players attend when putting together his ranking system.
He also looks at their skill sets, performance on the field, age and potential.
He says his system isn't popular with everyone.
"I've heard from some schools that unions have told them not to talk to me and that's fine.
"They just don't know what the site is for and the reason for my efforts are only going to start to show with the first group of guys over the next year or so."
Then they will have to sit up and take notice, he says.
Auckland Rugby high performance manager Ant Strachan says anyone following the site should keep things in perspective and see it for what it is.
The system also relies on input from students which has potential to influence results, he says.
"It seems to be a bit of fun for kids and it keeps people talking about rugby and students engaged with the game."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have the new speed limit rules made you change your driving habits?