Untouchable ! Wynberg lock Cameron Bowes just makes it past a St John's defender during
his side's 38-12 win at the Wynberg 175 Festival. (photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images)
The time has finally come to put a bow on another very entertaining schoolboy rugby season in the Western Cape.
At Craven Week 2016, the WP were almost as spectacular as expected, SWD were solid if unspectacular and Boland were neither solid nor remotely spectacular.
At schools level, Paarl Boys’ High surpassed even their own expectations (well, I hope they didn’t anticipate their achievements) with a second unbeaten season and a hitherto unheard-of eight SA Schools players. Oakdale went on their merry way – apart from when they ran into, inter alia, the WP Big Three – up the Garden Route and the most striking team to come out of the Boland was Swartland.
The winter hopefully brought great enjoyment to everyone involved, irrespective of on which side of the whitewash you found yourself. Obviously, the following selection is 100% subjective, based as it is on what I actually saw, (OK, some of it was on DSTV or Youtube).
Most Striking Feature of the Season
Forgive me for sounding a negative note, but, having patiently sat through the drivel served up in the Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup (both miserable versions), traces of the Community Shield and (by the Springboks) in the Championship, an opinion formed as early as the opening games of the SupeRugby schlep has entrenched itself more emphatically with each passing week.
I believe that the schoolboy game, arguably the only area in which we still show some superiority in the global game, increasingly represents the most obvious life-belt for our national sport. Perhaps I’ll expand on that in a month or so, more likely not.
Match of the Year
Lots of candidates here, but my vote goes to the end-of-season game at the Jan Kriel in which Paarl Gym and Outeniqua shared – a little unevenly – fifteen tries.
Half-time saw the Gimmies coasting at 35-7, but the Quaggas kicked back with a vengeance, reducing the deficit to just seven points, 35-28, with twenty minutes to go. A rapid-fire exchange of tries finally ended with the hosts ahead 59-42. Man, that closing period was like watching a tennis match !
Try of the Year
Little doubt here.
Barely six minutes into the Bishops – HTS Drostdy match in mid-May on the Piley Rees, the Donkeys swiftly turned defence into attack, culminating in as clinical a five-pointer as I’ve witnessed in many a year.
Massive Drostdy tighthead Cameron Visagie sent a sublime chip over the shallow Bishops backline for prolific try-scorer left-wing Bradley van Turha to collect on the bounce and streak over untouched from twenty metres out. Just like that !
Players of the Year
I have decided to exclude from my (very) shortlist any player who was awarded Craven or Academy Week colours this season. Sorry, Messrs Uys and Burger, but that’s the way it is.
Jordy Hop (SACS). The story of how the Flying Dutchman landed up playing rugby for SACS is worthy of an article all on its own. Unencumbered by years of exposure to the South African system, whatever that is, he has gained the admiration of all who see him play. Apart from his excellent tee-work, he doesn’t know the meaning of surrender. When his combative spirit shines through, those around him can only react positively. The high-octane result has made SACS that much more difficult to beat.
Handré Jooste (Tygerberg). Handré is a very big lad and is therefore less mobile than most, but, in two seasons with the Tygers’ 1st XV, he has silenced every single detractor or snide observer with a string of relentless, driving displays. The result is that he, quite justifiably, became the team’s go-to guy, battering his way to seven tries, a most respectable haul for a tighthead. Awesome stuff, Tjoepie !
Ross Goodwin (Bishops). If this nuggety youngster grew half a metre taller, I’d back him to be a cage fighting champion, such is his absolute refusal to admit defeat in any situation. No corner, often literally, was too tight for him to try to battle his way out of it or go down trying. The saddest sight of the season was seeing him return to action after a long injury spell, only to hobble off with a similar injury to the other leg after just a few minutes. Can’t wait to see you next year, lad !
Most entertaining teams of the Year
In no particular order, Paarl Gym, SACS, HTS Drostdy and rising stars Parel Vallei.
Words can’t accurately describe the hospitality extended to me by various schools, but visiting Paarl Gym, for example, has become so enjoyable that I plan to spend time watching cricket there, too. The good folk of Drostdy are not far behind, either.
Photographic contributions have mostly come from Robert Gad (the Rondebosch matches), Sharon Laurenson (SACS) and several Boland Landbou parents, while Marlene Carstens (Oakdale), Marilize Jordaan (Boland Landbou), Thys Lombard, Anton van der Mescht and Brakkies Sport Fotos all provided valued input.
I wish to extend my thanks to a small group of hard-core supporters for their invaluable input and advice and to the contacts at various schools in the Boland and South Western Districts for helping me keep you up to date. They are many, but it is still surprising how uncooperative some people choose to be. They make the work just a bit harder and enthusiasm is not always in plentiful supply…..
To close with, some good news. The Tony Stoops Rhinos, drawn from the participants at TSRF 2016, spent the first week of October on a three-match tour of Portugal, accompanied by the management team of Stokkies Truter (Brackenfell), Kuyper Albertyn (De Kuilen), and Louis van Straaten (Tygerberg).
The spirit amongst the tourists was almost palpable the night prior to their departure and it didn’t deviate from an upward trajectory from then on, either. For example, the mere excitement in Setubal long before their arrival resulted in the local rugby club being allocated a property of its own after years of trying.
Thanks to Leon of Travel and Sport for the massive role he plays in facilitating a whole tide of such excursions, to the coaches for giving so willingly of their time and expertise and to the families of every Rhino for making the sacrifices which allowed your youngsters the opportunity to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Maybe even more, actually: three youngsters were even offered contracts.
The benefits of such a tour extend far beyond the results, but, since they are the only tangible criteria available by which to measure the team’s success, here they are.
Saturday 1 October vs Academia Rugby Setubal 130-0
(Tries : Shadley Dazel (Klein Nederburg, 3), Handré Rupping (Lutzville,3), Peter Machal (York,3), Rossouw Burger (Porterville,2), Liam Stevenson (Brackenfell,2), Cameron Hansby (De Kuilen,2), Andries Bester (Vredenburg), Boetie Opperman (Porterville), Dylan Grootboom (Cillié), Godwin Jacobs (Schoonspruit), Marco Le Roux (Montana); Conversions: Dazel (9), Austin Prins (HTS Bellville,6))
Tuesday 4 October vs Direito (national club champions) 39-0
(Tries : Rupping (2), Grootboom, Jacobs, Stevenson, Machal, Burger; Conversions: Dazel, Prins)
Thursday 6 October vs Cascais 64-5
(Tries : Dazel (2), Machal (2), Opperman, Hansby, Jacobs, Le Roux, Gershrick Didloff (Parow), Ruan Combrink (Brackenfell); Conversions : Dazel (7))