The Auckland Rugby Union Supporters Club Junior Rugby Foundation is working hard to keep some of the province top young talent in the region to ensure Auckland's rugby stocks remain high.
To that end, commercial companies in the area under the jurisdiction of the ARU are being invited to partner with Junior Rugby Foundation (JRF) to fund scholarships to retain for the province as representative players for Auckland, the Blues and, ultimately, the All Blacks, some of the outstanding young people who are emerging from Auckland secondary schools and the ARU's high performance development system.
The plan is for a small number of what will be called Auckland Junior Rugby Scholarships, each capped at $5000 per annum for three years, to be administered by JRF, with assistance as and when needed from ARU.
The impetus for this new direction has come from the negotiation by JRF of a sponsorship agreement with Royal Wolf Trading NZ Ltd, the country's leading shipping container company, to make available each year the Royal Wolf Rugby Tertiary Scholarship, of $10,000 per annum for three years, to enable the selected high rugby performance college leaver to complete his chosen tertiary degree at his choice of the three Auckland universities, subject only to a requirement to commit to Auckland rugby long-term.
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The JRF trustee heading this initiative, Terry Dunleavy, explains: "In this inaugural 2015 year, we received 10 applicants for the Royal Wolf scholarship, the standard of whom in terms of rugby potential, academic accomplishment, and personal integrity took us by surprise. It is, frankly, a shame that only one of these 10 outstanding young men could be the winner. In the course of our interviews with these applicants, what became evident was not just that any one or more of the unsuccessful nine may be lost to Auckland rugby, but that they could be lost to Auckland business and industry.
"We were impressed with the range of professional careers envisaged by these young men, ranging through civil engineering, accountancy, criminology, computer technology and teaching. This made us realise that, in addition to the wide range of academic disciplines available under the Royal Wolf Scholarship, what a pity it is that there are not more industry-specific specific scholarships available to applicants wishing to specialise in any year. "
The inaugural winner of the Royal Wolf Rugby Tertiary Scholarship will be announced at a function at the Barbarians clubrooms at Eden Park on Tuesday evening.