Hospita-Bull ! Despite its imposing mascot, pictured here leading the side
out at Paarl Gym, Oakdale is one of the most welcoming venues at which
to play schools rugby in the Western Cape. (photo : Marlene Theron)
The end of the first term once again brings with it the two Western Cape high schools rugby festivals: the Mutual and Federal Agri Oakdale Festival and the TSRF - which is discussed in a separate article - both of which take place from Saturday 19 to Wednesday 23 March 2016.
The combination of the breathtakingly beautiful area surrounding the Bulls’ home paddocks and the superb facilities the proud institution offers is enough to provide any tourist with reason enough to pay this charming town a visit. Toss in the festival and it becomes virtually unmissable for the serious Garden Route schools rugby fraternity.
The fact that the event is now in its 37th year further underscores its magnetic quality. In recent years the guest list has even had to be increased to 30 1st XVs, at the expense of the handful of Under 14 sides who used to be invited, to accommodate the growing demand.
Between them Oakdale and the TSRF take care of pretty well all the Boland and SWD teams, but the increasingly high profile being maintained by Malan du Plessis’s team has meant that several relatively high-profile sides have been included in order to provide adequate opposition for the hosts who this period as being the launching pad for the Wildeklawer summit at the end of April.
The teams attending this year’s week are :
Boland : Augsburg Gym, Bredasdorp, Dirkie Uys, Hermanus, Labori, Montagu, Overberg, Vredendal;
Blue Bulls : Centurion;
EP : Die Brandwag (Uitenhage), Kirkwood, Muir College, Pearson;
Free State : Sentraal (Bloem);
Griffons : Voortrekker (Beth), Welkom Gym;
Griquas : Diamantveld, Landboudal (Jacobsdal), Upington;
Namibia : Windhoek Gym;
North-West : Lichtenburg, Potchrfstroom Gym;
SWD : Langenhoven Gym, Oakdale;
Valke : Oosterlig;
WP : Bellville, Brackenfell, Durbanville, Monument Park and Strand.
At first glance, the most attractive fixtures on the opening day would seem to be Brackenfell vs Lichtenburg, Oosterlig vs Pearson and Oakdale vs Sentraal (Bloem).
With a new organizer at the helm, Brackenfell have opted to try a more adventurous approach this year. This comes as a huge relief as the impression last year was of a team desperate to maintain a façade of excellence by avoiding even the most remotely challenging opposition.
With head coach Corné Kannemeyer being given freer rein, the Brakke announced their laudable new attitude by taking on mighty Outeniqua at their own rugby day in March.
Pearson from Port Elizabeth have been working steadily on boosting their national profile over recent seasons and should start reaping the resultant rewards in the near future.
Lichtenburg and Oosterlig should provide testing early hurdles to these two stirring giants.
The hosts’ only preparation for their festival will have been a match against Argentinians Cordoba AC at Paul Roos, their annual pipe-opener against HTS Daniel Pienaar only scheduled for 9 April because of the early-March congestion.
Sentraal are not known to give in without giving good account of themselves and might fancy their chances against their slightly undercooked hosts.
The full programme for the first day is :
08:45 Durbanville vs Landboudal
09:55 Brackenfell vs Lichtenburg
11:05 Augsburg Gym vs Bredasdorp
12:15 Windhoek Gym vs Voortrekker
14:00 Oosterlig vs Pearson
15:10 Langenhoven Gym vs Bellville
16:20 Welkom Gym vs Die Brandwag
18:00 Diamantveld vs Potch Gym
19:10 Oakdale vs Sentraal
08:45 Vredendal vs Labori
09:55 Kirkwood vs Montagu
11:05 Centurion vs Strand
14:00 Monument Park vs Muir College
15:10 Dirkie Uys vs Overberg
16:20 Hermanus vs Upington
Please note that this website will only be carrying the details of matches in which teams from the three Western Cape unions (Boland, South Western Districts and Western Province) are involved.