And so we continue to lose international class players to leading rugby countries …
Dave Ribbans, a relatively unknown (in South Africa) lock who was schooled at Somerset College in Somerset West, never quite made it in South Africa.
He has however now been called up by England coach Eddie Jones for the remaining Six Nations matches against France and Ireland.
Ribbans replaces experienced his clubmate Courtney Lawes who will be unavailable for the remainder of the tournament through injury.
▲ Of course, there are late bloomers in all sports. But Ribbans, who plays for Northampton Saints, was probably constrained by the ingrained custom of our schools selectors looking past potential stars at lesser rugby schools and to select those who perform for the top sides.
But what is especially worrying, is that Ribbans, who didn’t play provincial schools rugby and joined the WP Institute after school, has been largely overlooked and obviously not mentored properly in South Africa.
Still U20 and without being invited to play for WP U19 the previous year, Ribbans played in a pre-season warm-up for Super Rugby franchise the Stormers against the SWD Eagles.
He played his first provincial match as a 19-year-old in March 2015, starting for Western Province’s senior side against the Boland Cavaliers.
In 2016 Ribbans was named in the Stormers squad for the Super Rugby season but the U20 forward never took to the field. He did however play in four matches for the WP team that finished top of the 2016 Currie Cup qualification series.