2017 WRAP : SINGING THE SEASON TO SLEEP !
No way through ! DF Malan scrumhalf Dylon Senger (in white) finds himself
blocked off on all sides during his side’s 15-20 interschools defeat
at home to Bellville in August. (photo: Johann van Tonder)
The time has finally come to put the 2017 schools rugby season well and truly behind us.
The year is easily summarised: Paarl Boys’ High continued to dominate the WP (and the rest of the known world), Outeniqua claimed the SWD crown and Stellenbosch, Groenberg, Hermanus and HTS Drostdy were the pick of the Boland crop.
Most Striking Features of the Western Cape Season
Firstly, there is the relative failure of all three of the provinces’ Craven Week sides to record any great measure of success.
For Boland and South Western Districts, the size of their player-pools is an extenuating factor; for Western Province, there is no cop-out. The selectors made some unforgivable blunders, not least failing to include a proven goalkicker in the side
Secondly, despite all the jumping up and down, name calling etcetera about player poaching earlier in the year, the plague continues. The unfortunate target now seems to be Durbanville, who, one might say, have created the perfect scenario for their own demise.
The implosion of the school’s 1st XV has provided the ammunition with which predators can approach members of their outstanding junior teams. Their rationale ? Who would want to toss away a promising career when a player’s finest years might be spent fighting a similar losing battle ?
Finally, the huge scores that sometimes grace this site for no other reason than the ever-widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots.
For example, four years ago Tygerberg beat Stellenberg 23-18 away from home; this year the Jade Brigade returned the favour 90-26. In increasingly professional times, one of the first casualties looks like becoming traditional games against less-ambitious neighbours.
Match of the Year
The only really memorable game I attended was Paarl Gym’s 44-24 victory over Bishops at the Piley Rees. It was a very attractive game, yielding no fewer than eleven tries, the first of which came after fifty seconds; the last four, in the last eight minutes.
The game threw up one interesting reminder of the home side’s thrilling victory on the same field two years ago. Two missed conversions ultimately cost Gym on that occasion; this time there was another hiccup in this department. In the face of a howling gale, Gym flyhalf Daniël Beukes had a conversion taken too close to the goal-line charged down.
Try of the Season
My favourite five-pointer came in the game between Stellenberg and Dale on Monday 3 July 2017, day two of the Cape Schools Festival.
After being under the cosh for virtually the whole match and with no chance of overturning the Jade Brigade’s 22-0 lead, the Kingwilliamstown side launched an audacious backline move from inside their own half.
Brilliant interpassing down the right touchline was justly rewarded with a stunning try by Dale outside centre Siphamandla Matsinya. If only it could have come twenty minutes earlier.
Players of the Year
As was the case last year, I have not included provincial caps in my list – tough luck, Henco – but there was plenty of talent on view throughout the year apart from the chosen ones. And so, in alphabetical order, here are my favourites.
Dan Aspeling (Bellville). Aspeling is – perhaps one should I say was, given that he is likely to put his abilities as a discus and shot-put athlete ahead of his rugby next year – precisely the complete player that Western Province so sorely lacked in the Craven Week this year. Not only did this workhorse inside centre rack up an astonishing 217 points – and he missed a few games with injuries – to go with last year’s 192, but he scored no fewer than 28 tries during the two campaigns. And if his attacking skills didn’t constitute sufficiently compelling proof of his abilities, his defence was rock solid. He wasn’t selfish either, supplying midfield partner Xavier Adams with the wherewithal to notch seventeen tries of his own.
Erik Lambrecht (Boland Landbou). If ever a player epitomised the expression “a team man”, Lambrecht was it. Originally a scrumhalf, he smoothly slotted in on the left wing early in the season and ended up topping the Windmeul Warriors try-scoring chart with ten five-pointers. His strongpoint seems to be that he isn’t really the type of player who strikes the opposition as warranting special attention. Unlikely to be returning to the no.9 position in 2018, there is talk of him partnering Sebastian de Klerk at centre. Frankly, he could play anywhere, such is his willingness and work-rate.
Sean-D van Binsbergen (Brackenfell). Even in a very strong, superbly drilled pack, this very sturdily-built youngster stood out. The phrase “leading from the front” was doubtless coined by someone who foretold Sean-D’s arrival because the Brakkies’ skipper invariably took the ball to the opposition, irrespective of their size or reputation. I really shouldn’t have to mention him on this list: his being overlooked for higher recognition was mystifying. One can only imagine what he might have done alongside a player of Vion Fourie’s talent.
Heinrich van der Watt (DF Malan). When you watch upward of fifty 1st XV matches in a season, you tend to crave one thing: originality. This youngster provided that in spades. Playing at flyhalf, he was able to harness his wide variety of skills. At 67kg he was never going to be in line for provincial honours in our size-obsessed selection system, but, be it with a jink here or an audacious attempt at a dropped goal there, he ensured that no-one ever fell asleep during a DF Malan game.
Team of the Year
Several sides which I saw at least twice immediately come to mind: Stellenberg, Brackenfell, Hopefield and Groenberg being just a few, but my favourite unit was the resurgent DF Malan side.
They may not have beaten any big guns, but coach Bertus Enslin has welded this young crew into a very attractive outfit, with twelve-try full-back Tasriq Mynhardt, half-backs Dylon Senger and Heinrich van der Watt happy to weave their spell, courtesy of a pack effectively commanded by skipper Daniël Wesson, a feisty hooker who dotted down nine times.
With Wesson, Bryan Breda, Ruan de Beer and the van Tonder twins, Urich and Ruben, amongst those returning in the new year, the prospects look good.
My thanks go to those schools who were so kind to me on my travels, in particular to Gustav Pienaar and his team at Rondebosch for the superb Cape Schools Festival.
My articles would be literally and figuratively colourless without the co-operation of some very talented and generous photographers. In this regard, Robert Gad at Bosch, Warren Williams at SACS, Gail Barnard at Charlie Hofmeyr, Gavin Falck at Outeniqua, Shaun Roy at Cape Schools, Johan van Tonder at DF Malan, Marilize Jordaan at Boland Landbou, Marlene Carstens at Oakdale, Poppie Terblanche at Paarl Boys’ High and others have brightened all our lives considerably.
The Tony Stoops Rhinos
The TS Rhinos, picked from players attending the Tony Stoops Rugby Festival, is not picked purely on merit, but with an eye on who would contribute to a healthy, positive team ethic.
This year Stokkies, Louis and Kuyper decided to take two teams, one mostly Under 18s and one including Under 19s, on tour to Scotland and England, under the guidance of Leon at Travel and Sport. They had a stunning time, which included visits to St Andrew’s Golf Course, Murrayfield and the Old Trafford football ground.
The results below bear testimony to the immediate rapport between these charming youngsters. Thanks to all of you for the positive vibes that echoed wherever you went !
Friday 29 September 2017
TS Rhinos U18 98 North Berwick RFC 0
(Tries: Leano Haupt (Vredenburg, 2), Pierre Mouton (Piketberg, 2), Andries Bester (Vredenburg, 2), Joshua Steenberg (Groenberg, 2), Rayden Phillips (Tygerberg), CP Nunez (Vredenburg), Chean Truter (Brackenfell), Joshua Lategan (De Kuilen), Dean Maart (De Kuilen), Austin Thomas (Klein Nederburg), Kevin Slow (Nico Malan), Jacques Mouton (Piketberg); Conversions : Jacques Mouton (9))
TS Rhinos U19 17 Edinburgh University Freshers 0
(Tries: Oakley Conyers (Tygerberg), Chantin Jonas (Groenberg), Braydon Maré (De Kuilen), Conversion : Corné Thiart (De Kuilen))
Sunday 1 October 2017
TS Rhinos U18 43 Morpeth Colts 0
(Tries : Marnus Kirsten (Porterville), Jacques Mouton, Keanu Johnston (De Kuilen), Joshua Lategan, Chean Truter, Divan Bezuidenhout (Pionier), Pierre Mouton, FC Ras (Lutzville); Conversions: Jacques Mouton (3), Pierre Mouton)
Monday 2 October 2017
TS Rhinos U19 26 Durham University Freshers 19
(Tries: Joshua Steenberg, Keanu Johnston (De Kuilen), John Henry Pienaar (Tygerberg), Leano Haupt; Conversions : Chantin Jonas (2), Corné Thiart)
Wednesday 4 October 2017
TS Rhinos U18 46 Kirkham Grammar School 0
(Tries: Jade-Lee Andreas (Brackenfell, 2), Rayden Phillips, Jacques Mouton, Joshua Lategan, CP Nunez, Dean Maart, Wilbur Prins (Vredenburg); Conversions: Pierre Mouton (2), Jacques Mouton)
TS Rhinos U19 36 Manchester Metropolitan University Freshers 5
(Tries: John Henry Pienaar (2), Divan Bezuidenhout, Keanu Johnston, Chantin Jonas, Joshua Steenberg; Conversions: Jonas (3))
Still to come
The 2018 fixtures will be posted as soon as I receive the South Western Districts and WP Premier B arrangements. The Boland fixtures may take longer as they are arranged by the individual schools. There’ll also be the list of 2018 festival participants and a few more galleries, starting with Outeniqua and Charlie Hofmeyr.
Otherwise, have a great summer, a joyous festive season and a thrilling 2018 ! For younger readers, best wishes for the examinations !