Rhodesfield Technical High School in Kempton Park held their nerve to win a tightly-fought encounter against Dr Johan Jurgens High School by 12-10 to claim the inaugural JJ Yamwimbi Challenge Shield trophy on Saturday.
The schools, which are among 42 schools in the Coca-Cola Schools of Excellence programme, met for the first time in the memorial match hosted by the Valke Rugby Union for Jean-Jireh Yamwimbi, who was selected for the union’s Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week team last year but passed away a week before the tournament. He attended Rhodesfield Technical High.
The match, which will become an annual fixture on the Valke Rugby Union’s calendar, was played as a curtain-raiser to the SuperSport Rugby Challenge match between the Hino Valke and Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in Kempton Park, which the hosts won 50-33.
Adding a special touch to the match, the shield was handed over to the winning side by the late Yamwimbi’s father, Cleopas Yamwimbi, who was invited to attend the match as a VIP guest, while the schools also received a new kit, which they wore during the match.
The Coca-Cola Schools of Excellence programme, which is a joint venture between Coca-Cola and SA Rugby, was first introduced in 2012 to develop rugby at schools in previously disadvantaged communities and to increase the number of skilled players who are able to compete at a higher level by the age of 18.
In 2015 the programme had grown to include 42 schools countrywide featuring young boys and girls from the age of 15. Its objectives also expanded to increasing the number of players participating in the programme by 50% over three years.
“The Coca-Cola Schools of Excellence Programme and the Coca-Cola Youth Weeks form the cornerstone of our development structures at SA Rugby, and we are thankful to our loyal sponsors Coca-Cola, who have become synonymous with school rugby in South Africa, for supporting these events,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“We all felt the heartache the Valke Rugby Union and the Dr Johan Jurgens High School team experienced after JJ’s passing last year, and it is touching that we can celebrate such a talented young player with the JJ Yamwimbi Challenge Shield.
“This annual memorial match will serve as a key event on the Coca-Cola Schools of Excellence rugby calendar in future, and we hope to see the teams continue to play for the trophy in the spirit with which the inaugural match was played last weekend.”