IMG 0252

Is this what they mean by “koppestamp” ?  Hopefield no. 8 JP Smit (in green jersey) and
Overberg captain Johan van Dyk look set for a collision at a scrum during their match
at the Porterville Bulfees on Saturday 9 March 2019.  Hopefield won the match
(if not the head-banging) 48-12. (photo : John Sweetnam)


It is rather ironic that, barely two weeks into the schools rugby season, what might well be the most defining period for many of the big guns has arrived. 

We’ve only just recuperated from the Boland Landbou, Brackenfell, Porterville and Lutzville events, but the first spate of festivals - five of them; six if you count TSRF XII - will see the big fish in the Western Cape pond trying to prove themselves against the best the rest of the country - sometimes even foreign teams - has to offer, all in the course of the next two and a half weeks !

Let’s take a look at what’s available to the avid fan.

North-South Festival (!)

When :  Friday 15 and Tuesday 19 March 2019

Where : Tshwane

Local Interest : Paarl Gym, Boland Landbou, Durbanville, Outeniqua, Paarl Gym, Paarl Boys’ High and Stellenberg

Opponents : Affies, EG Jansen, Garsfontein*, Helpmekaar, Menlopark*, Monument and Waterkloof (* indicates one match each)

What was already a mighty impressive line-up has been further enhanced by the boys from Auret Street.

The pick of Day One’s games seem to be Garsfontein vs Outeniqua and Monument vs Paarl Gym, while Tuesday features Menlopark vs Paarl Gym and Monument vs Paarl Boys’ High.

The really good news is that School Sport Live is set to stream the games, so all one has to do is switch on, tune in and go ballistic !

North-South Festival (2)

When : Saturday 16, Monday 18 and Wednesday 20 March 2019

Where : Uitenhage

Local Interest : HTS Drostdy and Strand

Opponents : Ben Vorster, Marais Viljoen, Middelburg and Transvalia

Others : HTS Daniël Pienaar and Nico Malan

Although the teams on show don’t quite match up to the Tshwane bunfight, HTS Daniël Pienaar will be hosting local outfits Strand and HTS Drostdy, the latter being the kind of side one ignores at one’s peril (unless you’re Boishaai, that is !).

The Donkeys’ clash with rising force Ben Vorster on the Monday is going to be a mighty confrontation.



Mutual and Federal Agri Oakdale Festival

When : Saturday 16, Monday 18 and Wednesday 20 March 2019

Where : Riversdale

Local Interest : Augsburg Gym, Bellville, Brackenfell, Bredasdorp, Hermanus, Hugenote (Bol), Langenhoven Gym, Montagu, Oakdale, Robertson and Vredendal

Opponents and others : Alberton, Die Brandwag (EP), Despatch, Diamantveld, Dinamika, Duineveld, Ellisras, Grens, Heidelberg Volkskool, HTS Middelburg, Jeugland, Kempton Park, Lichtenburg, Oosterlig, Potch Gym, Rockingham (Austr), Upington, Voortrekker (EFS) and Zwartkop

The increasing number of schools from outside the Western Cape has ratcheted this event’s excitement right up as one no longer has to go through the tedium of seeing the same schools playing each other year after year.

The big match on the opening day, under floodlights, between the hosts and HTS Middelburg promises to be as good a match as you’ll find anywhere during this week.

Tony Stoops Rugby Festival

When : Saturday 16, Monday 18 and Wednesday 20 March 2019

Where : Brackenfell High School

Local Interest : Ashton Secondary, Bellville South, Bergvliet, Bosmansdam, Cederberg Academy, De Kuilen, DF Malan, Dirkie Uys, Groenberg, HTS Bellville, Jan van Riebeeck, JG Meiring, Klein Nederburg, Lutzville, Melkbosstrand, Montana, Monument Park, Namaqualand, New Orleans, Paulus Joubert, Piketberg, Porterville, President, Schoonspruit, Swartland, Vanrhynsdorp, Vredenburg, WP LSEN Invitation XV, Weston and Worcester Gym

Opponents : Alexander Road, Bridgton, Knysna, Langenhoven High, Otto du Plessis and Victoria Park

Pretty well only a development festival, this one, especially taking into account the migration of virtually all the bigger schools.

However, the standard of rugby served up by the likes of Dirkie Uys, Schoonspruit and Groenberg still makes a trip into the northern ‘burbs worthwhile.

Wynberg Winter Festival

When : Thursday 21, Saturday 23 and Monday 25 March 2019

Where : Wynberg Boys’ High

Local Interest : Milnerton*, Parel Vallei, Rondebosch**, Tygerberg and Wynberg**
(* indicates one match; ** indicates two matches each

Opponents : Glenwood**, KES, Pearson and San Isidro (Argentina)

What with “team management” (a euphemism for keeping clear of extra fixtures, especially if they represent potential defeats), there is precious little to get excited about apart from a handful of big match-ups.  In fact, the age-group fare looks almost as appetising as the excellent catering.

Pity that hosts Wynberg are playing KES, but avoiding Glenwood, which makes the KES vs Glenwood game on the Thursday the pick of the week.  That this doesn’t feature a Western Cape school just makes it more surreal : imagine Manchester United and Chelsea playing each other in Newcastle !  

KES, the Argies, Pearson and Tygerberg are the only sides with three fixtures, and even then Tygerberg line up against a Soweto XV on Day One with their 82-0 cakewalk against local equivalents Langa at the 2017 festival no doubt fresh in their collective memory.

World Schools Festival

When : Tuesday 26, Wednesday 27, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 March 2019

Where : Paul Roos Gymnasium

Local interest : Boland Landbou, Paarl Gym, Paul Roos and SACS

Slightly less local interest : Affies, Glenwood, Grey College, Hilton, Monument and South African Invitation XV

Foreign threat : Africa Pacific Dragons Select XV, Christchurch (NZ), Hartpury (Eng), Italian All Stars, John McGlashan (NZ), Napier (NZ), Southland (NZ), , USA Schools XV and World Schools Select XV

The matches between South African schools and those from New Zealand and England are bound to be engrossing contests.  No argument there.

What bothers one, however, is the quality of the Invitation teams, starting with their titles.  One is left with the impression that they added in the odd adjective along the way to try and embellish the same old walkovers from last year, sides that would be out of their depth at the TSRF.

Poor old SACS, the host’s longest standing traditional rivals, for example, play a World Schools Select XV and the Zambezi Steelers, whose place of origin leaves nothing to the imagination, but who sound more like they belong on a gridiron field.

And the Africa Pacific Dragons ?  One for the geography fundis, that !

Please note : What with the TSRF ending on Wednesday 20 March and the Wynberg event starting the following morning, there will be no reports, just results, on this site until the dust has settled.


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