WP PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURE ROW BREWING
Cape Schools drop-outs. Wynberg (in hooped jerseys), pictured playing Swartland at
TSRF 2014, have decided to withdraw from all future Cape Schools Rugby Weeks.
(photo: Eleanor Muller)
The release of the initial draft of the Western Province Premier A and B tier fixtures for 2015 on Thursday 23 October 2015 has led to some justifiable consternation, but it would appear that larger issues are about to present the relevant committee with far greater headaches.
Amazement greeted the scheduling of the two southern suburbs uberderbies, SACS vs Wynberg and Bishops vs Rondebosch, for the first (not last) Saturdays of the second term in a document that shows the kind of naïvety only a disinterested pen-pusher could come up with.
Other oddities include Paarl Boys’ High being down to visit Grey High – it should be Grey College – and Paarl Gym being slated to hit the Farm on 18 April.
However, assuming that the content (if not the playing order) is correct, one major point becomes clear. The majority of the WP Premier A sides will not be playing HTS Drostdy of Worcester in future.
Although they will face B-leaguers Monument Park, Stellenberg and Tygerberg, the Donkeys’ only top tier WP opponents in 2015 will be Paarl Boys’ High (in Worcester) and Rondebosch (in Cape Town).
Tygerberg’s reward for providing a string of successful Sevens teams as well as the WP and SA Schools Sevens coach is as subtle as a Klitschko uppercut. They do not have a single game against Premier A opposition. The school intends to do their best to rectify the situation.
All their efforts at establishing themselves as feared opposition on the local and national level seem to have resulted in their being punished with a fixture list that inexplicably includes JG Meiring, HTS Bellville, Primrose RFC, Milnerton and Trafalgar.
The only sensible explanations for this travesty would appear to be that the person responsible mistook Tygerberg High for Tygerberg RFC or that said individual was too busy grooming himself for a possible photo opportunity at the ABSA Currie Cup Final – rather like a kindergarten teacher claiming credit when one of her former charges receives a doctorate.
Anyway, these are minor hiccups when compared to the stand taken by the four southern suburbs schools.
Tired of, amongst other things, getting thumped by vast margins and occasionally returning home to find a player or two has been coaxed into jumping ship, Wynberg, Bishops, SACS and Rondebosch have insisted that, from 2015, they each intend to play only three of the four out-of-towners each year.
Apparently this position was accepted by the executive at a fixtures meeting, but was then conveniently overlooked when it came to drafting time.
The WP Union has apparently asked for a meeting of all the headmasters at their earliest convenience to reconsider this position. Smart money says the final fixture list might take a while yet.
It is further understood that the city schools intend to ask for staggered fixtures against the Winelands Four. They feel that while A vs A and B vs B might still be competitive throughout the age-groups, the city C sides should play the country D teams and so on.
One can see a point as regards matches against the two Paarl giants and Paul Roos, but Boland Landbou, with around 400 boys, would justifiably feel hard done by, were they to be lumped in with their country cousins on this point.
Another development will see Wynberg withdraw in the coming days from the 2015 Cape Schools Week to be hosted by Grey High in Port Elizabeth next June.
Two factors point to this definitely not being a decision that has been taken lightly.
Firstly, the Week was originally the brainchild of a Wynberg teacher, but at a time when the only other festival was the St Stithian’s Week.
Secondly, the timing is extremely unfortunate as the Lovers Walk school enjoys a very close bond with Grey High, one which is cemented each year with an extensive interschools weekend involving a broad spectrum of sports. The 2015 event takes place in Cape Town on 8 and 9 May.
Their rationale, that schoolboys are simply playing too much rugby at the moment, is one that is gaining momentum in various centres.
This sentiment certainly seems laudable enough, but the fact that Wynberg fully intends continuing with its relatively young Rugby Festival at the end of April might invite allegations of hypocrisy.
Interesting times ! Be careful what you wish for !
Latest news : Tuesday 28 October 9:00
With commendable haste, a new WP Premier A and B fixture list has been issued, giving the perennial in-betweeners, HTS Drostdy (one more WP Premier A game - even if it is against SACS, who will most probably cancel) and Tygerberg (three WP Premier A games), something to smile about.
However, the four southern suburbs schools are still slated to play all four out-of-town opponents. An urgent meeting of the WP Premier A headmasters will discuss this standpoint at the union offices this afternoon.
Update : Tuesday 20:00
Meeting held. The city-based Premier A sides' concerns about playing all four of their country cousins became more an unwillingness to play them in too concentrated a period, so that didn't require any cosmetic surgery.
SACS indicated that they were not prepared to play HTS Drostdy, while Boland Landbou could not accommodate the Worcester side because there was no date available for such a fixture. The result was that both games were replaced by matches against Stellenberg, who, the fixture list will tell you, have one doozy of a year ahead of them !