Let the backs show you how it’s done ! SACS scrumhalf Lucky Dlepu (9) and full-back
Michael Abrahams (15) go in search of the ball during their side’s 22-18 home win over
Boland Landbou on Saturday 22 April 2017. (photo: Warren Williams)
No fewer than three more festivals this weekend: the Wildeklawer Spectacular, Karoo Tournament and Wynberg Winter Sports event all take place on Saturday 29 April and Monday 1 May 2017! It never rains, but it….never rains.
By my reckoning, and my reckoning is accurate, by next Monday night 45% of the season will be a thing of the past for the 1st XVs of the Western Cape schools. Not bad, considering that last Saturday saw the opening day of local fixtures!
The Karoo Tournament pits twelve apparently randomly chosen teams against each other. The three local provinces don’t have any heavyweights on show, meaning that the game between Marlow and Menlopark looks like the only biggie on Saturday.
The Monday menu looks better, with Bloemfontein’s Jim Fouché vs Schoonspruit and Brackenfell vs Menlopark topping the bill, but taking an overall view, the event’s attraction rests largely on the chance to see some rare visitors in action.
Wildeklawer has, quite rightly, become the pinnacle of schools rugby, an invitation to which trumps an appearance at any of the big Easter bunfights. That said, it’s timing – the only realistic time-slot available – is unfortunate.
It is inevitable that there will be a great many match-ups pitting top schools from all the different regions together in what is, reputation-wise, the ultimate schoolboy rugby cage fight.
The unfortunate aspect is that try as they might, those teams that lose crucial games are basically doomed to resort to local fixtures to maintain anything like a satisfactory place in the almost-Biblical national rankings.
Whichever way one looks at it, a school can kiss goodbye to a top-five ranking if they have a poor weekend. Apart from in the Western Cape, really influential match-ups end at Diamantveld.
Boland head north in a somewhat subdued state, having lost their last two matches. Things don’t look too promising for them as they take on Grey College and Monument, both of whom are reportedly particularly strong this year. Hopefully, that can serve as motivation for the Farmers.
Oakdale, having been given a sharp kick by the Donkeys, face Monument and a Garsfontein side that is also highly rated, even if they lost their most recent outing to, you guessed it, Monument (21-45 in Pretoria). Even one win might be a bit much to hope for.
Outeniqua really doesn't need this weekend. However, although Affies on Monday pose a tough ask, they should have the beating of Welkom Gym on Saturday and be able to return to George with something in the credit column.
After what they’ve gone through already this year, nothing remotely represents a major hurdle to globetrotting Paarl Boys’ High. No disrespect intended to Selborne and Glenwood, but Sean and Elmo’s guys have a wardrobe of t-shirts to prove they’ve been there and done that.
For Paarl Gym, this is a critically important weekend. Waterkloof should be seen off on Saturday, but Grey College on the Monday – a sort of annual date, this – is arguably going to be one of the most influential fixtures in the schoolboy rankings in 2017. No further comment necessary.
Paul Roos offer Affies the chance to avoid a triple shut-out at the hands of the three Western Cape amigos. Heaven – and hopefully technology – help the referee tasked with this one! The Young Maties then clash with Waterkloof on Monday.
Still shell-shocked after the Bishops game, Stellenberg must consider both EG Jansen and HTS Middelburg as beatable, provided they do not reprise last Saturday’s relaxation of concentration and discipline.
All of Monday’s games will be televised live on DSTV channel 201.
The Wynberg Winter Sports Festivals derives its enormous popularity from the fact that it includes all the big southern suburbs schools, thus, dare I say it, eliminating the defeatist attitude with which some people have come to approach matches against the country cousins.
This year’s visitors are led by a very slick KES team, which managed to deal fairly comfortably with both Rondebosch and Wynberg over Easter.
Their Saturday lunchtime (13:20) match against Bishops promises to be the highlight of day one and it is doubtful whether Bellville will be able to chalk up one for the WP when they meet on Monday at the same time.
After appearing to have turned a corner up at KES over Easter, Wynberg took a bit of a pounding against Bosch last Saturday. The hosts do battle with regular visitors Windhoek High on Saturday (16:00) and newcomers Lydenburg on Monday at 10:40. It is more than likely that the ups and downs of the last fortnight will have served to solidify the best combination for Justin von Winkel’s youngsters.
Rondebosch has every reason to look forward to games against Tygerberg (Saturday 14:40) and Hugenote of Wellington (Monday 16:00). Neither of these opponents is anything like as formidable as they have been in recent years. Bosch, on the other hand, started out confidently against Pietersburg at TSRF 2017 and haven’t deviated much from that path, despite their defeat against KES.
SACS only play once this weekend, but won’t be holding anything back when they take on Bellville at noon on Saturday as they prepare for next week’s trip to the Piley Rees to play Bishops in a fixture which has brought them much success in the last few seasons.
Bishops will also only be in action on Saturday. Should they shore up the weak points that were all too apparent in the early stages against Stellenberg last week and build on the admirable determination they showed in the second half, they might yet test the Jo’burg team. Who knows, the latter’s justifiable psychological edge against southern suburbs schools could just turn into a stick with which the Platinum Blues can beat them!
Durbanville, who have been embarking on a serious bid to raise their rugby profile, might well prove to be the big local winners at the festival. Neither Lydenburg (10:40 on Saturday) or Windhoek High (12:00 on Monday) appears to have the pedigree required to challenge the well-drilled outfit from the edge of the Boland.
Bellville is really up against it, playing SACS (Saturday noon) and KES (Monday 13:20). A great deal will depend on the continuing form of centre Dan Aspeling, their major contributor last season and already high up on the 2017 points-scorer charts.
If their run of success since losing at home to Boland form-team Charlie Hofmeyr is anything to go by, DF Malan’s young team seems to be gelling beautifully and they should be relishing their games against Upington (Saturday 8:00) and strugglers Swartland (Monday at 14:40).
While Parel Vallei has also laid out ambitious plans for their rugby future, Lady Luck hasn’t dealt them that many high cards so far this campaign. If they can hold Hugenote in check on Saturday (9:20), they may yet find the strength to push Upington (Monday 9:20) all the way.
But these games just represent the tip of an impressive iceberg of sport. There are hockey and soccer matches aplenty for those with different tastes. Plus, there’s the awesome vibe of the Bowden, Berg’s onsite, er, post-recreational refuge, where television is just one of the very incidental attractions.
What-about-the-form-book ? Spot: On Saturday Vredenburg lost 0-62 at home to Charlie Hofmeyr, but three days later they managed a stunning 33-3 victory over Vredendal at the same venue!