South Africa

Etienne Fynn: Development programmes still crucial for rugby’s future

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Sharks legend Etienne Fynn says it’s important for South African rugby to sustain the talent identification programmes for players from remote areas in the country to get opportunities.

Fynn, who has been part of the Sharks system as a player and coach, says many players would not have been exposed to the game without such programmes.

‘No Gumede without talent ID’

Speaking to The Citizen about the development and growth of Bulls loose forward Mpilo Gumede, Fynn touched on the importance of development programmes.

Gumede, who is from Zululand, was discovered through school development programmes.

“A guy like Mpilo is an example of what our country can produce; he is a product from an identification perspective of the KZN youth development programme,” Fynn said.

“He was identified, brought into DHS (Durban High School) and played representative rugby at KZN Schools and South African Schools level. Without that identification system, perhaps he wouldn’t have been exposed to the game,” he said.


Fynn said development programmes that aim to reach remote areas and serve as part of transformation should never be pushed aside in the country.

“This is a real burning issue for me in our country; people look at development programmes and say ‘Why must we still have them all these years after unification?’

“It is precisely for kids like Mpilo, who were identified through these programmes and now are blooming in their 20s.

“For me, it’s non-negotiable if we are sincere about rugby’s future in our country and its sustainability. Mpilo is from Zululand, and so are Khutha Mchunu, Phepsi Buthelezi, and Fez Mbatha. They all grew through these programmes, and being exposed to the game at a young age is another critical factor and these programmes do this,” he said.

Fynn has urged regions around the county to invest in talent identification programmes for their pipelines to be strong.

“I believe that it should be regionalised far more, and the systems refined and grown in each region. Then you’ll have a pipeline of players that won’t stop. It’s about that talent being recognised by the decision-makers and allowing them to play,” he said.