Monument High School has its sights set on a first ever victory against Paarl Boys High when the two powerhouse rugby schools meet at the Southern Business School (SBS) Bulfees in Porterville on Saturday.
The “Wit Bulle” have played against Boishaai six times in their 99-year history and it’s staggering to think they have been on the losing side every time.
For Monnas their season-opening game in Porterville on Saturday (live on the SSL YouTube channel at 18h00) is the first of three treacherous matches within the space of ten days.
Next Saturday they face Boland Landbou and three days later they play against Paarl Gymnasium.
Monnas coach, Tjaart van der Walt, appreciates the task facing his troops and he says they enjoy the challenge. “Playing the three big Paarl schools back to back, we couldn’t have asked for a tougher start to the season.
“If we can put in strong performances in these three matches it will set the tone for our season. We want to play against the best schools in the country because we take pride in our rugby,” said Van der Walt.
Monnas has only played against Boishaai once under Van der Walt and they lost that encounter 34-21 last year. “I think we’ve beaten every other recognised rugby school in the country except Boishaai. It’s remarkable to think that we’ve fallen short every time. It would be great to get that monkey off our back.”
Van der Walt led in a rugby revival at Garsfontein High School and spent five years between 2011 and 2016 building a fantastic rugby legacy at the Pretoria based school.
He joined Monnas in 2017 and between 2014 and 2019 no team coached by Van der Walt has finished outside the top ten in South African schools’ rankings.
He coached the Lions XV Craven Week squad in 2018 and 2019, and this year he has been appointed as head coach of the Lions Craven Week team.
The pressure Saturday in Porterville goes both ways as Monnas will be very disappointed if they lose once again while Boishaai wouldn’t want to tarnish their clean sheet.
“I’m very excited ahead of Saturday’s match. Boishaai will no doubt be strong – they always are. We would like to play our best and try not to make any silly early season mistakes,” said Van der Walt.
Monnas has retained numerous players from their 2019 squad, which means Saturday’s team has a wealth of experience. A total of 12 players who take the field against Boishaai have worn the white jersey before.
The new caps are centre Waldo van den Berg, lock Andries du Preez and open-side flank Hennie du Randt. Van den Berg played in the Lions Grant Khomo squad last year while Du Preez played for Limpopo in the Grant Khomo Week.
Hershelle Goodman moves from flyhalf to wing and Armand van Noordwyk, who played fullback last year, moves to flyhalf.
The team is nicely balanced, and many fans believe this is one of the strongest Monnas sides in recent years.
The Monnas team against Boishaai: 15. Luan van der Walt, 14. Herschelle Goodman, 13. Waldo van den Berg, 12. Marco Botha (Capt), 11. Reuben Barnard, 10. Armand van Noordwyk, 9. Franco Hallatt, 8. Ethan Snyman, 7. Hennie du Randt, 6. Rynard Mouton, 5. Dries du Preez, 4. Zander Hoeksma, 3. Heiko Pohlmann, 2. Brandon Beukes, 1. Jan Hendrik Bessenger.