2015 FESTIVALS REFLECT INTERESTING TRENDS
Feathers set to fly in Volstruisvallei festival fun ! Oudtshoorn scrumhalf PJ Smit
clears a ruck in the game against Schoonspruit at TSRF 2014. The Struisies will be
hosting a North-South festival at the end of April 2015. (photo: Eleanor Muller)
The tectonic plates that underlie schools rugby in this country might just be shifting ever so slightly if the trends currently discernible in two spheres of the game, both related to festivals, are anything to go by.
The first of these is the discernibly dfferent attitudes to the number of games being played by top-flight schools.
Intense recruitment, correspondingly impressive results and increasing opportunities to rub shoulders with the big guns (the North-South Festival, in this case) has seen schools such as Menlopark and Garsfontein build up the momentum to support their claims to be counted amongst the elite.
In contrast not only has Wynberg withdrawn from all future Cape Schools Weeks, but they also declined a well-merited, if unexpected, invitation to Wildeklawer, as did Grey High (PE), KES and Maritzburg College.
In these times when too many schools think only of themselves, the last two above have, in a laudable gesture of loyalty, opted rather to attend the Jeppe 125 celebrations.
Both Wynberg and Grey High’s withdrawals stem from the feeling that their 1st XVs are just playing too much rugby. Grey have cited the extra rigours of Cape Schools Week in June, but Wynberg have simply put their foot down and said “enough”.
The second is the rising popularity of the end-of-April festivals.
The problems of compiling decent fields for the Easter shindigs has somewhat given way to filling the guest lists for the end-of-April weekend.
While the Wildeklawer organizers might not face the dilemma of whom to invite, the introduction of a new North-South event (in Oudtshoorn) has proved so popular that its guest list posed a serious problem for the slightly more established Wynberg Rugby Festival.
The point that this highlights is the increased interest in shorter, more convenient festivals. Both may offer two games in a three-day period, but the Struisie’s one seems to have grabbed the imagination of some very interesting schools for reasons other than geographical convenience..
A quick look at the entrants will tell you that some serious second-tier institutions will be hoping to cause the ostrich feathers to fly. It would not be an exaggeration to say that many of the guests are schools that could well be looking at this event as a stepping-stone to greater things.
Is everyone simply spoilt for choice or are we seeing the beginning of a drift towards the slightly less arduous programmes that fit neatly into a long weekend ?
The 2015 Festival Calendar
The cancellation of the Grey High Festival at Easter has opened the way for some of the Eastern Cape schools seldom seen down south to head for Riversdale and Parow.
Uitenhage's Muir College and Pearson of Port Elizabeth will be attending the slightly larger than usual Mutual and Federal Agri week at Oakdale – the organizers have scrapped the Under 14 teams in favour of a bumper thirty-team 1st XV intake – while perennial Humansdorp over-achievers Nico Malan have entered for the TSRF at Tygerberg.
With Oakdale having decided against playing in the North-South Festival in Tshwane directly after their own annual event – it would have meant playing six games in nine days – their place has been taken by an Australian team, Combined High Schools of Sydney. Grey Cherries from Bloemfontein have agreed to participate as the Aussies’ 2nd XV.
Here is the 2015 attendance roster for all the major festivals that feature, in bold type, teams from the three provinces (WP, Boland and SWD) that comprise the Western Cape.
* indicates that the fixtures involving Western Cape sides can be found in the Fixtures section.
Saturday 28 and Monday 30 March 2015
Pukke Skouspel : HTS Drostdy, Florida, Framesby, Klerksdorp, Potch Gym, Transvalia, Kearsney, Noord-Kaap, Rustenburg and Waterkloof *
Easter Weekend : Thursday 2, Saturday 4 and Monday 6 April 2015
Kearsney EF : Kearsney, Selborne, SACS, Dale, Menlo Park, Glenwood, EG Jansen, Westville, Affies, Framesby, Grey College and HTS Middelburg
KES EF : KES, Ben Vorster, HTS Daniel Pienaar, Durban HS, Eldoraigne, Graeme, Hentie Cilliers, Hudson Park, Kingswood, Northwood, Parktown, Queen’s, Rondebosch (only the first two days) and St David’s (Inanda)*
St John’s EF : St John’s, Garsfontein, Golden Lions XV, Hilton, Paarl Boys’ High, Paul Roos, Jeppe, Monument, Nelspruit, St Benedict’s, St Charles and Viadana (Italy)*
St Stithian’s EF : St Stithian’s, Grey High, St Andrew’s (EP), Pretoria BHS, St Alban’s, Helpmekaar, Wynberg, Maritzburg College, Michaelhouse, Windhoek High, Schoonspruit (Bol) and Clifton*
Oakdale M&F Agri F : Oakdale, Montagu, Diamantveld, Hermanus, Overberg, Bredasdorp, Bellville, Welkom Gym, Die Brandwag (EP), Augsburg Gym, Marlow, Monument Park, Vredendal, Kirkwood, Durbanville, Brackenfell, Strand, Labori, Centurion, Potch Gym, Langenhoven Gym, Kempton Park, Dirkie Uys, Pearson, Kirkwood, Muir, Sentraal (FS), Upington, Voortrekker (NFS) and Knysna*
TSRF : Outeniqua (only day one), Noord-Kaap (only days one and two), Worcester Gym, Tygerberg, Stellenberg, Oudtshoorn, Nico Malan, De Kuilen, Jan van Riebeeck, Table View, Klein Nederburg, New Orleans, Victoria Park, Kairos, Sutherland, Jan Kriel, Bellville South, Voortrekker (Pmb), Otto du Plessis, Milnerton, Weston, Bosmansdam, Langenhoven High, Hopefield, Groendal, Parow, Piketberg, Porterville, Westering, Swartland, Edgemead (only days one and three), Barrydale, York and Stella*
Tuesday 7 and Thursday 9 April
HTS Drostdy North-South Festival :
North : Florida and Kempton Park
South : HTS Drostdy and Hugenote*
Tuesday 7, Thursday 9 and Saturday 11 April
Bizsport (at Glenwood): Rustenburg, Prince Edward (Zim), Lichtenburg, Merensky, Montana, Benoni, Die Anker, Wesvalia, Trinityhouse and Hereford Academy (UK)
Wednesday 8, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 April
Walvis Bay Desert Classic Festival : Walvis Bay Private High School, Elnatan, HTS Windhoek, Tsumeb, De Duine, Rondebosch, Port Natal, Namaqualand, Nortchliff and Volkskool Heidelberg (Gtg)*
Thursday 9 and Saturday 11 April
Menlo Park North-South Festival :
North : Menlo Park and Garsfontein
South : Paarl Gym, Outeniqua and Combined HS (Sydney)*
Saturday 25 and Monday 27 April
Wildeklawer Superschools : Grey College, Paarl Gym, Paarl Boys’ High, Outeniqua, Monument, Boland Landbou, Menlopark, Noord-Kaap, HTS Middelburg, Waterkloof, EG Jansen, Glenwood, Affies, Diamantveld, Oakdale, HTS Louis Botha, Selborne and SARU *
Wynberg RF : Wynberg, SACS, Rondebosch, Tygerberg, Stellenberg, Bellville, Hugenote, St John’s, Pearson, St Stithian’s, Walvis Bay and Upington*
Oudtshoorn North-South RF :
North : Helpmekaar, Voortrekker (NFS), Noordheuwel, Sentraal (FS), Ben Vorster, Rustenburg, Lichtenburg and Vryburg
South : Oudtshoorn, Brackenfell, Worcester Gym, De Kuilen, Marlow, Die Brandwag (EP), Nico Malan and Piketberg
Saturday 27, Monday 29 June and Wednesday 1 July
Cape Schools Week (at Grey High (PE)) : Grey High, Selborne, Dale, Queen’s, Muir, Standard Bank Eastern Cape XV, Boland Landbou, Paarl Gym, SACS, Rondebosch