Seven years ago Stokkies Truter (then Sports Organizer at HS President, now at HS Tygerberg) approached me about our combining forces to resurrect a festival (the Pat Ambrose Festival) that he had run and I had sponsored at HS Bosmansdam a few years earlier.
In 2008 the first Tony Stoops Rugby Festival, comprising just eight teams, took place at HS President. It was such fun we decided to expand our net. 2009 saw us with ten teams, 2010 brought us 24, which became 34 in 2011 and, believe it or not, 42 in 2012 !
The festival is aimed primarily at sides below the top tier in the Western Province plus anybody else, which seems to be mostly Bolanders, who wants to pitch in. The 2012 crop included a team from KZN, six from the Eastern Cape, six from the South Western Districts and even Noord-Kaap, who graciously agreed to play in the flagship game on the Saturday.
We were able to accommodate so many teams because (a) HS President could offer us four fields (b) Ben Theron, the refereeing equivalent of powdered milk, took personal charge of all the match officials and (c) all the WP and Boland sides simply drove in and out each day. This meant that just some thirteen teams had to find their own accommodation and food – our not providing these enables us to keep the budget manageable.
The 2013 Festival, the first at Tygerberg, involved 34 schools and was an outstanding success, thanks in no small part to the generosity of our sponsors and the accommodating nature of our host school.
C2M came on board as our major sponsors in 2014, a festival which included large doses of Noord-Kaap, Paarl Boys' High, Wynberg and Rondebosch among a field of 44 teams !
With one field, the Welpiekamp, being decommissioned we had to slightly shorten our guest list for 2015. On the plus side, generous sponsorship from Spur Steak Ranches and Profin financial consultants eased our financial burden considerably. Don't forget to visit the dedicated Festival facebook page, set by up by C2M.
TSRF 2016 : Saturday 19 March, Monday 21 March and Wednesday 23 March 2016
Acceptances up to 28 September :
Boland : Hopefield, Swartland, Emil Weder, Porterville, Paulus Joubert, Worcester Gym, Groendal, Lutzville, Klein Nederburg, Schoonspruit, Weston, Montana
Bulls : Sutherland
EP : Alexander Road, Humansdorp Secondary, Otto du Plessis, Nico Malan
SWD : York, Oudtshoorn, Langenhoven High
WP : Tygerberg, HTS Bellville, Jan Kriel, De Kuilen, Parow
Well, judging by the number of acceptances - two or three schools have been given extensions - it looks we are going to have a pleasantly manageable TSRF 2016. I am certainly not going to chase up those stragglers forgetful enough not to send in their forms or too ill-mannered even to drop a line to decline the offer politely.