AS THE DUST FINALLY SETTLES….
"Where are one’s team-mates when one really needs them ?" A President player prepares
to offload the ball as two Namaqualand tacklers close in during the Vrijzee side’s 10-7
victory on Saturday 16 March 2019, day one of TSRF 2019. (photo: Axnshots)
In the past two and a bit weeks this site has recorded the results of an astonishing 129 fixtures, all played by what are regarded as the leading Western Province, Boland and South Western Districts sides.
Whew ! That is one heck of a lot of rugby !
And all but seven of these games took place in South Africa, the very successful Bishops and Hopefield tours to Ireland - three out of four and three out of three wins respectively - accounting for the balance.
While the bulk of these games took place at the Mutual and Federal Agri Oakdale Festival just outside Riversdale and at the Tony Stoops Rugby Festival at Brackenfell High, Tshwane provided the venue for the intensely passionate opening salvo, as one would expect from the galaxy of teams on view.
What follows is a brief overview of what one can glean from the various weeks as regards the road that lies ahead for the various school sides.
Featuring, as it did, the cream of the country’s big hitters, the North-South Festival at Garsfontein served as the first stage in the sifting progress in the battle for national rankings. Those sides who came through the two games could breathe more easily for a while, while the less successful ones were left to ponder five months of trying to play catch-up.
Highly-rated Monnas, who lost both games against the two Paarl sides, were the most notable casualties, while Paarl Gym were the only Western Cape side to win both matches.
The sole blot on Boishaai’s copy book was a 20-20 draw against Helpmekaar, a result which must have seemed fairly acceptable when their opponents thrashed Boland Landbou 64-17, but the brilliant last-minute win over Monnas would have soon provided the balm for that wound.
Outeniqua and Durbanville had less success, but it was Stellenberg who emerged with a greatly enhanced reputation, who put their 21-28 defeat to Affies behind them to triumph 42-32 over Dr EG Jansen.
Irrespective of questions about the depth of their strength, the Jade Brigade has definitely provided ample evidence in the last three weeks of a very successful development strategy.
It was the fiercely competitive San Isidro team from Argentina that rained on hosts Oakdale’s parade on the second day of the Bulls’ Mutual and Federal Agri Festival by beating the locals 10-0, a result which the South Americans’ performances at the Wynberg Festival proved was not some random fluke.
Malan du Plessis’s charges did see off HTS Middelburg (33-3) and Diamantveld (29-17), but that defeat, coupled with the one meted out by Stellenberg at Brackenfell, is bound to hurt for some while yet.
Otherwise, the most striking feature was the demise of Brackenfell, who managed barely twenty points while conceding over 100, this after conceding 120 points in two home games before the trip to Riversdale.
The Tony Stoops Rugby Festival at Brackenfell yielded very little by way of surprises, although Schoonspruit weren’t the only unbeaten team. Vredenburg shared that distinction, their 30-26 thriller against surprise act Ashton Secondary seeing them clinch the trophy for the Best Rugby.
The credibility of the other North-South Festival, in Uitenhage, was severely dented when Transvalia opted to send their second string, which was nothing short of disgraceful. You get a wedding invitation, but don’t feel up to going, so you send a friend in your place ? Well, HTS Drostdy posted a 106-3 win over them, a thrashing that will stand for all time.
The Donkeys also beat Ben Vorster 26-12 and ended off by thumping Marais Viljoen 45-19 in a game that had to be cut short so that their opponents could catch their train home ! The other Western Cape representatives, Strand, were less successful, losing all three matches.
About the most astonishing feature of the Wynberg Sports Festival was St Andrew’s of Grahamstown competing on the soccer field.
The timing was questionable, the festival falling slap in the middle of the 18-day holiday, effectively (and drastically) curtailing any chances the participants had of enjoying a decent holiday.
The result was that only San Isidro, KES and PE’s Pearson arrived to take part on all three days. Glenwood settled for two, citing their appearance at the World Schools Rugby Festival as an excuse for skipping the Monday and even Rondebosch and the hosts themselves opted for just two outings apiece.
Glenwood proved the star attraction, beating both KES and the South Americans, while San Isidro won their other two games. KES managed to see off Wynberg, but couldn’t quite catch up to their overseas opponents on the last day.
Local sides Rondebosch and Wynberg both trounced second-tier opponents (Tygerberg and Pearson respectively), the game between the latter two sides providing arguably the most keenly fought encounter of the week, the Summerstrand school emerging 26-20 winners by virtue of converting three of their four tries.
Bosch seemed to lack size, although lock Matt Gray proved a reliable source of possession, while ’Berg sparkled around the edges of both tight and loose phases, thanks to some yeoman work by scrumhalf Matthew Damonze.
The World Schools Festival at the Markotter served up some exhilarating play, particularly by the South African teams, with traditional giants Grey College and hosts Paul Roos in the van.
The annihilation of Christchurch and Southland respectively by these powerhouses on the Thursday went some way to reinforcing a sense of the superiority of the schoolboy game in this country while also whetting the appetite for their titanic showdown at the same venue on 17 August 2019.
It is unlikely to have escaped aficionados’ attention that the only “foreign” side to win both matches was composed of SA schools not invited to the event.
However, in the midst of this euphoria, an unpleasant question was raised by the commentators, which included former Paul Roos coach Hein Kriek, now integrally involved in cultivating the game in the United States.
Why is it that, despite the supremacy of our game at schools level, within two years (Under 20 level) the rest of the world seems not only to have caught up with, but even overtaken us ?
Mmm, fortunately, that falls beyond the remit of this site, so let’s leave the soul-searching to those who are paid handsome sums in the hope that they can do just that !
OLD MUTUAL INSURE AGRI XV WYNBERG TEAM OF THE FESTIVAL
15. Dano Swart (Die Brandwag (EP)) 15. Joe Jonas (Glenwood)
14. Xavier Adams (Voortrekker (EFS)) 14. Sim Nthleki (KES)
13. Frans Postma (Voortrekker (EFS)) 13. Gethin Josephs (Parel Vallei)
12. Michael Allers (Kempton Park) 12. Chadwin Spiers (Pearson)
11. Keanu Coetzee (Zwartkop) 11. Daniel Hayes (Wynberg)
10. Tyron McCree (Die Brandwag (EP)) 10. Conor van Eden (Rondebosch)
9. Nico Pietersen (Oakdale) 9. Matthew Damonze (Wynberg)
8. Ryben du Pont (Die Brandwag (EP)) 8. Fermin Pereyra (San Isidro)
7. Quinton Immelmann (Duineveld) 7. Linden Ramon (Glenwood)
6. Lodewyk van Dyk (Hermanus) 6. Tinotenda Kampeta (Soweto XV)
5. Corné Rahl (Oakdale) 5. Matt Gray (Rondebosch)
4. Jarred Comley (Die Brandwag (EP)) 4. Liam Tattersall (Tygerberg)
3. Damien Swart (Despatch) 3. Blaine Golden (Glenwood))
2. Gideon Serfontein (Die Brandwag (EP)) 2. Troy Fisher (Rondebosch)
1. Jesse Issemonger (Landboudal) 1. Lukhanyo Vokozela (Rondebosch)
Best Forward : Gideon Serfontein (Die Brandwag (EP))
Best Back : Dano Swart (Die Brandwag (EP))
Team Playing the Most Attractive Rugby : Duineveld
TSRF BEST OF THE FEST XV
15. Yonga Gaxela (Knysna)
14. Aldo Walters (Swartland)
13. Wayne Plaatjies (Worcester Gym)
12. Shane Jordaan (Klein Nederburg)
11. Elroy Marshall (Schoonspruit)
10. Pierre du Toit (Worcester Gym)
9. Leagan Jagman (Klein Nederburg)
8. Jaco Strydom (Piketberg)
7. Hannes Joubert (Wprcester Gym)
6. Junior Jansen (Vredenburg)
5. Quentin Jordaan (Weston)
4. Marlo Bester (Swartland)
3. Werber Bartz (Jan van Riebeeck)
2. Hannes Mostert (Dirkie Uys)
1. Estean Herman (Swartland)
Best Forward : Junior Jansen (Vredenburg)
Best Back : Aurelio Philander (New Orleans)
Best Player : Shane Jordaan (Klein Nederburg)
Team Playing the Best Rugby : Vredenburg