Bravo, Bulldogs !  While most youngsters were in bed enjoying the last weekend (7:30) before
their return to the salt mines, the Under 19 rugby group at Parel Vallei was hard at work
trying out for places in the senior team. (photo: Nelia Schwim-Cornelius)

Ever heard of Arbër Zeneli ?  And Giorgi Chakvetadze ?  Mmm ?  No, I didn’t think so.  But you are quite familiar with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Damian de Allende, right ?

What could these two pairs of sportsmen possibly have in common, you ask ?  Well, they rose to prominence in very similar ways.

The burgeoning footballing skills of Zeneli, a native of Kosovo who plays for Dutch club Heerenveen, and Chakvetadze, a Georgian who turns out for Gent in Belgium, might have been recognised several years ago, but it is only recently that they have risen to prominence, thanks to their goalscoring endeavours in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Du Toit and De Allende first garnered attention at the Tony Stoops Rugby Festivals near the start of the decade.  The next step was the Boland Craven Week team for the Swartlander and the WP Under 19 side for the Milnerton star.  The rest, of course, is history.

The SA rugby duo have had several more years to develop, but such are Zeneli and Chakvetadze’s talents that it is only a matter of time before they attract the attention of much bigger clubs.

So, what’s the point of the above comparison ?  Well, with provinces forced to cut back on their playing resources while, at the same time having to increase their racial quotas, it only seems logical that the scouts should be trekking down to the well of resources that is the Western Cape.

Stokkies Truter and I have decided that the TSRF should from now on be devoted entirely to sides outside the higher provincial strata.  The festival coincidentally is also the only one to actively encourage the participation of schools serving previously disadvantaged communities.

This doesn’t really constitute a deviation from the event’s original goals, but it is always nice to observe how one is keeping in sync with current trends. 

Close to four months of being housebound thanks to health and vehicle issues has driven one point home: the current in-word is opportunity. 

The Mzansi and Big Bash T20 cricket leagues are committed to introducing promising youngsters to the cricketing public.  The eye-opening contributions of Ryan Rickleton and Riley Meredith are proof-positive of that !

By chance, the romance of the UEFA Nations League mentioned above was massively enhanced by its giving even the lowliest-ranked sides a chance to compete with their peers before a world-wide audience.  It didn’t hurt the minnows from eastern Europe that time differences meant that their games featured at convenient times for African viewers.

Let this serve as an invitation to all rugby-lovers, professional or otherwise, to head down to Brackenfell High School on 16 March 2019 and run their eyes over what could well be the source of several Springboks in the years to come.

Kudos time.  Two accolades, neither of which took place anywhere remotely close to a rugby field.

The first goes to Garsfontein who had the chutzpah to hold a function in Malmesbury in December 2018 for past, present and prospective pupils.  Bet that went down like an Irish submarine (someone knocked on the hatch).

The second goes to a young gentleman who covered himself in glory in Plettenberg Bay shortly after the end of his Matric exams.

Having been warned by his parents and the renting authority that he and his housemates should be extremely vigilant because certain locals regard the period as their festive season, he arrived home one night with his housemates to find a burglar had taken up temporary residence.

Although the youngster has always struck me as a passive, well-mannered lad - he takes after his mother - he did follow his father’s advice, imparted to him when he dropped them off the previous weekend, if not to the precise letter (the luckless felon survived).

Finding one housie in tears and the other holding out a golf club, he took matters, which ironically included the miscreant’s hand, into his own hands and, one broken pinkie later - the wannabe thief declined the unpleasant prospect of not being able to fidget with yet another digit - he had the location of much of what had already been looted.

The rest of their possessions, I’m happy to report, were recovered with the assistance of the local constabulary before they returned home. 

At least, now I know why they call it the Plett Rage !

Every English teacher warns every pupil about the dangers of taking words at face value (literally) rather than understanding them in their general context (figuratively).  The following two incidents highlight the importance of doing just that.

Jannie lived on a smallholding with his parents.  At seventeen he was about to enter his matric year, with his hopes for his rugby future having gained momentum along with the start of pre-season training (early September).

Jannie’s parents were Afrikaans-speaking, but encouraged bilingualism in their only child.  They could well have done with a dose of their own advice.  Jannie’s dad, a teacher and senior rugby coach at the school, attended no fewer than five general council meetings before he finally realised that Wharton R. Sole was not the name of the guy who seemed to have a lot to say; it was just what all the delegates muttered to each other after he’d sat down.

Three weeks into the final term of the year, Jannie’s mom noticed a puzzling trend in her son’s behaviour.  Every Tuesday and Thursday night - the days on which his father did duty at the hostel - just before bedtime Jannie, dressed only in pyjama shorts, would sneak out through the kitchen, spend about ten minutes outside and then return, wash his hands and go to bed.

She eventually decided to follow him.  She saw him head straight off to the tool shed, come back out with the net they used for taking leaves out of the pool and a bucket in which something evidently unpleasant - Jannie held it at arm’s length - sloshed around.

He then headed straight for the cover of their outside sewerage tank, opened it and dipped the net inside it before hauling it out and depositing something into the bucket.  He then returned his implements to the shed before slipping back into the house and into bed via the washbasin.

On checking the tool shed the next day his mom discovered a large amount of human faeces in the bucket.  That was all the proof she needed to demand an answer from her secretive son.

Upon being confronted, Jannie justified his actions by saying, “Don’t blame me, mom, Dad said if I got my s**t together, I could make the Craven Week side.”

Sounds a bit like the loose forward who walked into the visiting side’s changing room armed with two cans of diet cooldrink and a roll of duct tape, asked their flyhalf to stick his hand up and then promptly fastened the two drinks securely to the bemused pivot’s chest with the tape. When the intruder was asked what he thought he was doing, he replied that his coach had told him to keep tabs on the opposing no 10 throughout the match. 


In closing, from now on this website will be steering clear of any issues regarding school politics.  Try a spell in the heart unit and you’ll quickly realise the futility of sweating over matters you can’t influence even if you wanted to.


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