IT’S THAT TIME OF THE SEASON…
Second-row stampede ! Outeniqua locks Louis Meiring (in possession) and Pieter
Ferreira (to his left) take the direct route during their side’s 88-17 thrashing
of visitors Durbanville on Saturday 12 August 2017. (photo: Gavin Falck)
It will come as no surprise to you to find out that Saturday 19 August 2017 is going to be the busiest day of the year for schoolboy rugby throughout the Western Cape.
By the latest count there will be no fewer than twenty eight matches featuring sides that this site follows, a great majority of them involving all the razzmatazz that comes with the interschools events that give everyone the chance to make sure that the winter sports calendar closes with a massive blast.
Of course, the traditional fixtures, of which Paul Roos vs Grey College must surely enjoy pride of place amongst neutral followers of the schoolboy game (if such people exist), are unmissable occasions, but there are some other key clashes which might prove equally significant spread across the province.
The Young Maties might have won all three of their fixtures this term – at home 32-30 against Bishops (courtesy of a contentious conversion), 31 -7 at Wynberg and 33-24 out at Boland Landbou – but these scores might seem rather unspectacular when compared to Grey College’s recent 83-10 rout of Glenwood.
It goes without saying (but I’ll still say it), that the Maroon Platoon would have been holding back just a little mentally if not physically ahead of this massive contest.
There is no such thing as a suspect Grey side and the lads from the Eikestad are going to have their work cut out for them like at no other time this winter.
The hosts’ strength lies in their backline. When you can boast a 9-15 comprising Gerado Jaars, Juan Mostert, Regan van der Westhuizen, Rufus Dercksen, Brendan Venter, Remy Engelbrecht and Mr Reliable Colia Louis, it’s difficult not to take the field every week bursting with confidence.
That said, the forwards don’t possess quite the same firepower and will be under enormous pressure to provide quality possession to the quick men.
With a crackerjack Under 16 side coming through and several of their 1st XV available again in 2018, the Maroons are tipped to be the side to beat next year. Sending the Bloemfontein boys home crestfallen would sound the perfect warning to their local opponents.
Although the two showpieces differ in several respects, this fixture must rank up there with the Paarl Interschools.
The Faure Street game is unique in that it pits two giants of local schoolboy rugby, who are also close neighbours, against each other at a neutral venue ideally located between – and within walking distance of – the two protagonists. The fact that Boishaai and Gym face many of the same opponents during the season only serves to heighten speculation ahead of the big game.
On the other hand, the Grey College-Paul Roos game brings together two equally prominent traditional schools, but whose opponents very rarely intersect, Even where they do, using these results as a point of comparison can be dangerously misleading..
For example, the Maroons lost 20-22 to Grey High, while the Bloemfontein side whipped their PE namesakes 73-10. What this doesn’t tell one is that Paul Roos faced (a) a fresh GHS team (b) in hostile Port Elizabeth (c) in May, whereas Grey College (a) enjoyed home advantage (b) in August (c) when the Eastern Cape side was considerably more battle-weary.
Toss aside those statistics and brace yourself for seventy nerve-tingling minutes !
Before continuing the interschools preview, let’s look at games involving several other big guns from around the province.
Rondebosch travel up to SACS secure in the knowledge that a draw will be enough to see them crowned local champions (with 21 or 22 points) with one round of games still to be played on 26 August.
However, if the Young Ikeys win with a bonus point, and prevent Bosch from claiming one, they would be a mere two points (15) shy of Mark Lindenberg’s side (17).
At which stage Bishops start getting interested. Should the Platinum Blues beat Wynberg at the Piley Rees and score four tries in the process, they can climb to 17 points, which would mean “game on” against Bosch at the latter’s Tinkie Heyns field next weekend.
While many bemoan the southern suburbs sides’ inability to provide sustained competition to the Winelands Four, the intriguing state of the current battle for local top-dog status more than proves that they can provide just as much excitement as the so-called big guns.
For these schools, the accent in the phrase “healthy competition” remains emphatically on the word ”healthy”.
Three out-of-town clashes seem certain to provide interesting fare.
Outeniqua will be very keen to show their supporters that rugby is just as alive and well as ever in lush George when Paarl Gym arrive minus SA Schools stars Muller du Plessis and Henco Martins.
The Quaggas have put an injury-riddled start to 2017 behind them and, with only an undemanding local derby at home to Oudtshoorn to come, another convincing performance – dare one say, a win ? – against the Gimmies would constitute a bold statement.
By their sometimes impossibly high standards, Gym have had a poor season and would like nothing more than to close their campaign on a positive note.
With the arrival of Boland Landbou on Saturday 26 August, Oakdale need to sharpen all their spears when they host Framesby in Riversdale.
Ring-rustiness – they’ve only played twice this term, beating Langenhoven Gym 78-0 at home and Marlow 47-31 in Cradock – will be no excuse when they come face to face with a side in rampant form following their 117-7 cakewalk at Otto du Plessis last time out.
In Worcester HTS Drostdy will be closing one of their most successful seasons in recent times with a match against Duineveld of Upington.
The Donkeys brand of rugby has drawn high praise wherever they have played, which covers a rather wide range of venues, given the unwillingness of local sides to play them.
An 87-12 hammering at the hands of Marlow in Cradock last weekend may well be the reason for the withdrawal of scheduled opponents, HTS Daniel Pienaar, but, having formed an integral part of the very successful Griqua Country Districts side at the 2017 Craven Week, the lads from the banks of the Orange River can be counted on not to just lie down and roll over.
Back in the Mother City, the Tygerberg vs Stellenberg match has the potential to stir the WP Premier B pot. If the Parow side can pull off what appears to be an unlikely win and then repeat the feat when Brackenfell arrive for Interschools next weekend, they will have bragging rights in the northern suburbs.
And so, back to the interschools programme.
The main local attraction sees DF Malan host archrivals Bellville.
If one goes on results this year alone, the hosts hardly even need to pitch up, such has been the on-off nature of their opponents’ record. But the visitors arrive on the back of two wins, both achieved without star player Dan Aspeling, whose points-scoring.record over the last two years alone should be enough to warm the home team.
Bertus Enslin’s young DF side has played out of its socks from day one, thanks in no small part to the cultured boot and canny vision of diminutive flyhalf Heinrich van der Watt.
In the end, Bellville’s size and street-savvy might win the day, but the hosts aren’t going to go down without an almighty battle.
In-form Hugenote make the short trip to Malmesbury to face Swartland in the pick of the Boland clashes.
Despite coach Lance Sendin’s regular absence, on SA Schools duty, the Blackies have looked pretty resolute this term, beating Klein Nederburg 33-7, Charlie Hofmeyr 27-7 and Labori 74-10, with a narrow 31-33 defeat to Brackenfell sandwiched in between.
The Rockies, on the other hand, seem to have gone off the boil following several encouraging performances against overseas tourists at the end of July. They looked lacklustre in their 8-24 defeat at Tygerberg and did little to excite their supporters when beating Hopefield 17-10 last Saturday.
The fact that none of the Hugenote results mentioned above were achieved on their Murrayfield ground and that Interschools is away looks unlikely to prevent a win for the Wellington lads.
Even a late wobble by hosts Charlie Hofmeyr is unlikely to see them go down to a Robertson side that has lost the plot in the past month or so, while the low-key campaigns experienced by both Augsburg Gym and their guests this weekend, Vredendal, reduces their northern Boland showdown to little more than a lukewarm affair.
The Porterville-Piketberg game appears to be the best of the rest.
Although the hosts haven’t fired on as many cylinders as they would have liked recently, their pack, in which no.8 Adriaan Haasbroek has been outstanding with fourteen tries, should ensure that the White Ship limps home empty-handed.
The only SWD derby, between Langenhoven Gym and Punt in Oudtshoorn, should go the way of the Mossel Bay lads by a comfortable margin.
Save a couple of those bells and whistles, folks: there are still ten matches scheduled for next Saturday !