INFLUX OF UK TEAMS STARTS AT SWARTLAND
Man in the middle ! Dynamic Tygerberg no.8 Edja de Meyer (green jersey) attempts
to escape the clutches of two Worcester Gym opponents during his teams’ 30-8
win on 1 April, day one of TSRF 2017 at Brackenfell. (photo: Axnshots)
The annual Swartland Winter Festival takes place in Malmesbury on Thursday 20 and Saturday 22 July 2017.
The usual suspects – the hosts, Charlie Hofmeyr, Augsburg Gym, Piketberg, Tygerberg, Bellville, Durbanville and Gill College from Somerset East – provide the backbone of the field, with Vredenburg also tossing their hat into the ring this time round.
What does set this two-day get-together, smoothly stage-managed by the Rockies’ Bertie Gerber, apart from other such events is that its timing is ideal for the first outings of several of the traditional horde of English and Irish schools that head south for end-of-last or pre-next season tours.
Not even the closure of the Alan Zondagh’s rugby academy at Riebeeck Kasteel – ironically, now a retirement village – considered by many tourists as an ideal base from which to start their itineraries, seems to have dampened the spirits of this year’s visitors, all of them first timers at the festival.
The tourists attending proceedings are University College School (UCS) of Hampstead, England (both days), Campbell College of Belfast, Northern Ireland (first day only), Sullivan Upper (also from Belfast) and Stewarts Melville (Edinburgh, Scotland) (only on the Saturday). Both Campbell College and Sullivan Upper are also bringing their 2nd XVs.
Thursday 20 July
10:00 Durbanville vs Piketberg
11:10 Augsburg Gym vs Vredenburg
12:20 Tygerberg vs Charlie Hofmeyr
13:30 Gill College vs Campbell College 2nds (N Ire)
14:40 Bellville vs Campbell College (N Ire)
15:50 Swartland vs UCS Hampstead (Eng)
The definite highlight of the programme on day one, Thursday 20 July, is the midday match between WP Premier B regulars – and current log-leaders, for that matter – Tygerberg and the excellent Charlie Hofmeyr side from Ceres.
Tygerberg has been under the spotlight recently and for all the right reasons:
Justin Geduld has risen to international fame thanks to his performances for the World Champion Blitzbokke;
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth had the honour of captaining the national team against France in the third test;
Tukkies captain and scrumhalf André Warner and left wing Travis Ismaiel have been prominent for the Bulls in the Rugby Challenge, and
Young Juarno Augustus was named Player of the Tournament at the World Under 20 Championships in Georgia, after which he was selected for the Stormers Super Rugby team.
On top of this, despite gloomy predictions, Gavin Beresford’s Tygers have had a very acceptable season thus far. In the absence of scrumhalf Thandi Hoyi, away with the WP Academy Week side, the Parow team will be looking to versatile backline player Alessandro Dirk and workmanlike no.8 Edja de Meyer to play leading roles in Thursday’s game.
Needless to say, the fact that matches against HTS Drostdy, Stellenberg and Brackenfell lie ahead makes this match just that little bit more important in the greater scheme of things.
Under Mike Barnard, the Charlies have shown the same commitment to attractive running rugby that is the hallmark of the Tygers’ game. Tireless loose forwards like captain Shalton Cobern and Zinzan Willemse provide plenty of clean ball, which points-machine flyhalf Phillip Koegelenberg has used to ensure that the ball gets out wide with a minimum of fuss.
Like against like ? Could be fun !
Durbanville have had a pretty dreary last seven weeks and might well regard Piketberg as the kind of opponents against whom they can find their feet again.
The northern suburbs’ backline, in which captain and flyhalf Jean Aucamp and young centre Juanré de Klerk have shone, will have its work cut out for them when they face the combined skills of flyhalf Pierre Mouton, centre Nicki van der Westhuizen and bustling left wing Alex Ratilainen.
However, it’s the Durbies’ pack that has proved the team’s Achilles heel this campaign and the big men will need to up their game if they are to compete on an equal footing in an area in which the White Ship is traditionally powerful.
Expect another cat-and-mouse contest.
In the remaining all-local match, a very stable Augsburg Gym team shouldn’t be fazed by Vredenburg, whose half-back combination of CP Nunes and Jayson Dyers is largely to thank for the improvement in the side’s fortunes this season, despite the Clanwilliam outfit being without the trio of points machine flyhalf JP Viviers, influential no.8 Marco Griebenauw and elusive centre Chadd Fortuin, all of whom are doing provincial duty up at St Stithian’s.
Saturday 22 July
09:00 Piketberg vs Gill College
10:10 Tygerberg vs Vredenburg
11:20 Durbanville vs Sullivan Upper 2nds (N Ire)
12:30 Charlie Hofmeyr vs UCS Hampstead (Eng)
13:40 Bellville vs Sullivan Upper (N Ire)
14:50 Swartland vs Stewarts Melville (Scot)
The Piketberg vs Gill College game should be a very even affair, neither side coming from a particularly large school, but one can only think that the Eastern Cape team have been to Malmesbury often enough not to be caught unawares by any of the regulars.
If Thursday’s game pans out well for the Tygers, Vredenburg could be in for a tough time in Saturday’s other all-local tie.
Neither WP nor Boland will be in action at the Craven Week on the Thursday. Why not put on the winter woollies, hit the N7 and be part of this exciting event ?