OVERBOOKED OR UNDERCOOKED ?
Twenty games ? What’s the fuss ? Schoonspruit (in white), pictured here in action against
Augsburg Gym, played an astonishing 23 games this season ! (photo: J Berto V – No Edit)
The chances are that, by now, the majority of you will have feasted your eyes on the sumptuous menu that is the 2019 Western Cape schools rugby fixture list.
However, what with the intrusion of irritating little distractions like exams and end-of-year deadlines, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve got as far as calculating just how many games your or other schools will be playing next year.
Let me save you the trouble. Here’s a breakdown of how many full-length games the WP Premier A sides have undertaken to play in 2019.
2019 WP Premier A commitments
The abbreviations represent
Local commitments/ domestic fixtures (LL);
Boland Landbou Rugby Day (BL);
Brackenfell Sports Day (BF);
Cape Schools, if it takes place, (CS);
Easter Festival (EF);
North-South HTS Daniël Pienaar (NSD);
Oakdale Festival (OF);
Overseas tour (OT);
Porterville Sports Day (PV);
St Andrew’s (Grahamstown) (SA);
World Schools Festival (WS);
Wynberg Festival (WF);
Wildeklawer (WK) and
Wittedrift Rugby Day (WR).
The number of games each school played in 2018 appears in brackets after their names.
Bishops (19) 12 LL* + 4 OT + 3 EF + 1 SA = 20
Boland Landbou (17) 11 LL + 1 BL + 2 NST + 2 WS + 2 WK = 18
Paarl Boys’ High (14) 10 LL** + 1 PV + 2 NST + 3 EF + 2 WK = 18
Paarl Gym (17) 10 LL + 1 BF + 2 NST + 2 WS + 2 WK = 17
Paul Roos (15) 9 LL* + 2 WS + 5/6 SX = 16/17
Rondebosch (17) 13 LL + 2 WF + 3 EF + 2 CS = 20
SACS (20) 13 LL + 1 BF + 2 WS + 3 EF + 2 CS = 21
Wynberg (17) 12 LL + 1 BF + 2 WF + 2 EF = 17
* Bishops vs Paul Roos on 27 April only 2nd XV down; Paul Roos at SANIX
** 1st XV game vs HTS Drostdy unconfirmed, only 2nd XV down
This might seem all well and good; a couple more games than this year hardly constitutes a sea change. But that is where things get complicated.
This clashes directly with the currently popular “less is more” philosophy, which tries to limit overexposure by opting for a programme of fewer games rather than one involving too many fixtures, particularly against other the top-level schools.
Even then, one might think that the out-of-towners would still be prepared to play more festival games because these present them with the opportunity to improve their national ratings.
But you’d be wrong. All too aware of the physical demands relentless competition places on the bodies of their players, Boland Landbou, Paarl Boys’ High, Paarl Gym and Paul Roos have long since managed to tailor their seasons to satisfy their needs
For example, one coach has even gone on record as stating that he is unlikely ever to accept an invitation for his team to take part in a three-match event again.
So that leaves us with the four southern suburbs schools as the potentially overworked mules next season. The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly, the late-March reappearance of the Wynberg Festival, which was prematurely cancelled last year and, secondly, the Cape Schools Festival scheduled to take place at Uitenhage’s Muir College at the end of the second term.
Well, apart from their undertaking an overseas tour in the first team holidays, Bishops aren’t part of the Cape Schools mix so you can strike them off the list.
Wynberg skilfully opted out of Cape Schools participation a while back, which is a pity when one considers that they played an integral part in its foundation.
SACS have been granted a measure of relief by being invited to the World Schools Festival at Paul Roos. While that reduces their burden by one, their match at Brackenfell’s Sports Day puts them back on 21, the same daunting prospect as that facing Rondebosch.
Verdict : Bosch and SACS are so overbooked that the players’ parents will probably have to make appointments to see them.
By the way, one can only feel for the organizers of the latter festival: with Boland Landbou, Paarl Gym and even 2017 stop-gap Stellenberg, who have rather jumped at the chance of attending the St John’s Easter Festival, all having indicated their unavailability, which means only the Young Ikeys and Bosch are guaranteed from the Western Cape.
And so to the other three prominent Western Cape sides.
HTS Drostdy (18) 5 LL** + 1 BL + 1 PV + 3 NSD + 3 EF + 2 WK = 15
Oakdale (16) 9 LL + 1 BF + 3 OF + 2 WK = 15
Outeniqua (14) 9 LL + 1 WR + 1 BF + 2 NST + 2 WK = 15
** 1st XV game vs Paarl Boys’ High unconfirmed, only 2nd XV down
HTS Drostdy, with only five local commitments, have learnt how to look after themselves in recent years. Even so, they and the two SWD big guns are seriously undercooked by comparison with their WP counterparts, a situation that isn’t helped in the two O’s case by their provincial trials taking a big bite out of May.
Of course, the Bulls’ and Quaggas’ summary omission from the 2019 World Schools Festival, of which they received no official notice, would have boosted both teams to a more comfortable seventeen games apiece.
Both Outeniqua and HTS Drostdy are looking for games on Saturday 13 July 2019 as events at last year’s game between the two caused an irrevocable breakdown in relations between the two schools.
Bottom line : All three are so undercooked that they make steak tartare look like a piece of old leather.
In closing, my sincere thanks to the many people who kept me in their thoughts and prayers during the cardiac procedures I recently underwent. Your kindness is much appreciated.