In the thick of the action ! Worcester Gym flyhalf Vegan Carolus (10, in blue) tries
to bring down a Solihull opponent during their match on Thursday 14 July, day one
of the Swartland Festival. The English side won 13-5. (photo: Andrew Rose)
The annual Swartland Winter Rugby Festival, sponsored by Copytype, provided its customary assortment of local and British fare to a fairly large and thoroughly appreciative crowd on Thursday 14 and Saturday 16 July 2016.
With no real edge to any of the games, a delightful spirit of camaraderie was evident throughout, irrespective of there being a few mismatches, none of which could have been foreseen as they generally involved the B teams of the various overseas visitors.
Word has obviously got around in the UK that a coaching spell at Alan Zondagh’s state-of-the-art Rugby Performance Centre at Riebeeck Kasteel, home of the prominent Du Toit rugby family, combines perfectly with a couple of days of the unreserved hospitality of this charming Malmesbury school to provide a very agreeable way to round off the European winter or start planning for the next one.
Thursday 14 July
The highlight was Tygerberg’s narrow 21-20 victory over Uitenhage’s HTS Daniel Pienaar, who are also known as the Tigers, but for less obvious reasons.
Played in the early afternoon in pleasant, sunny conditions, the outcome of this clash defied form and predictions as the Parow lads overturned a 3-10 half-time deficit to dominate the second period against a team who, albeit without three provincial representatives for this event, did claim the scalp of EP big guns Grey High School earlier this season.
However, it was the way that they won the game that earned the most praise.
Aware that their customary extensive use of their backline was reaping no rewards, Gavin Beresford’s team kept possession up front after the break to telling effect.
Their first try might have come from outside centre Ettiene Spies, but it was props Didi le Roux and Man of the Match Handré Jooste who most richly deserved their five-pointers.
The Uitenhage side dotted down twice, via hooker Sibulele Tyala and no. 8 Ryan Oliphant, but, otherwise, it was left to the boot of centre Johan Kemp to keep the scoreboard moving.
Enterprising Hopefield decided from the get-go that the best way to combat their early morning (8:30) kick-off was to run the ball around, which they did to good effect, scoring five tries to beat Lurgan College of Ireland 31-8.
From local favourite battering-ram tighthead DJ Louw to impressive outside centre Rewaldo Strauss, also a regular try-scorer in the Boland league, every player contributed to a very entertaining spectacle that set the bar high for the games that followed.
Despite their unhappiness at being drawn against Bellville, a side whom they felt would prove far too strong for them, Gill College from Somerset East were good value for their 17-15 win over the northern suburbs team, the destroyer-in-chief being young flyhalf Johan Lombard, whose accurate place-kicking was surpassed only by his gigantic footwork out of hand.
The pick of their opponents were centre Dan Aspeling and full-back Anthony van Tonder, but the absence of a concerted team effort ultimately cost the Lions dearly.
Even with seven regulars doing provincial duty at Kearsney, hosts Swartland proved too much for English tourists Pate’s Grammar, recording a comfortable 27-0 win, the highlight a great try by centre Pieter Hamman following a sniping break through the hesitant opposition midfield.
All the scores
Hopefield (17) 31 Lurgan College (Ireland) (3) 8
Vredenburg (5) 10 Stonyhurst B (England) (0) 0
Volkskool (Graaff-Reinet) (21) 52 Latymer’s Upper B (England) (0) 0
Worcester Gym (5) 5 Solihull (England) (5) 13
Augsburg Gym (6) 6 Stonyhurst (12) 26
Swartland B (10) 37 Solihull B (14) 14
Durbanville (49) 87 Pate’s Grammar B (England) (0) 0
Tygerberg (3) 21 HTS Daniel Pienaar (10) 20
Despatch (7) 17 Latymer’s Upper (10) 10
Bellville (8) 15 Gill College (7) 17
Swartland (6) 27 Pate’s Grammar (England) (0) 0
Saturday 16 July
Tygerberg’s win over HTS Daniel Pienaar on Thursday paled into insignificance compared to Saturday’s talking point, Durbanville’s 44-13 demolition of the Easter Cape side in sunny, but considerably chillier conditions than those on Thursday.
The visiting side put in a reasonable first half, crossing over 13-19 down, but fell away like a sheer cliff in the second period, even losing a player to a red card for foul play in the latter stages.
With Durbanville, what you see is pretty well what you get: a team without stars, but who’ll fight to the bitter end. It was this cohesion that shone through so brightly after the break as they ran the ball wide against their visibly-tiring opponents, notching four delightful tries as they romped home.
The comparatively recently revamped backline, in which scrumhalf Jean Aucamp has moved to flyhalf in place of Renier van Rooyen, now at inside centre, with Lenel van Niekerk coming in behind the scrum, was crucial in determining the margin of the victory. All three contributed to the score, Van Niekerk’s two tries earning him the Man of the Match accolade.
Swartland got the shock of their lives, going behind to a converted try by Welsh visitors Gwent College in the first minute of play. They more than held their own for the remaining hour or so, but were left to rue a simple missed penalty in the first half, for which a faulty ball – which was immediately replaced – was largely responsible.
The Durbies’ two northern suburbs neighbours, Tygerberg and Bellville, both had comfortable wins over overseas opponents, with Tygers full-back Tiaan Henecke celebrating his 18th birthday with an impressive 29-point (three tries, seven conversions) haul against a frankly hapless Pate’s Grammar side.
Bellville put Thursday’s shoddy display behind them, crossing the Latymer’s Upper line four times as they spread the ball out wide, the most deserved try going to hard-grafting hooker Hermann Heins.
All the scores
Gill College (20) 41 Piketberg (3) 10
Latymer’s Upper B (0) 0 Vredenburg (32) 57
Stonyhurst B (0) 0 Montana (0) 10
Stonyhurst (7) 19 Despatch (0) 5
Pate’s Grammar B (0) 5 Volkskool (12) 29
Durbanville (19) 44 HTS Daniel Pienaar (13) 13
Tygerberg (33) 59 Pate’s Grammar (0) 0
Swartland (0) 7 Gwent College (Wales) (7) 10
Bellville (14) 28 Latymer’s Upper (0) 5
As usual, much of the praise for the organization of the event must go to ageless Swarttland sports organizer Freek Stander, but all the other staff, including the first aiders and catering ladies – involved can be congratulated on more than ensuring the comfort of everybody who found the time to attend.