We’ll be there ! Hopefield (in green) may have got the better of interschools opponents Lutzville
(in red) 13-5 last August, but the two sides will have to put their fierce rivalry on ice…at least
until the end of TSRF 2016, in which they are both participating. (photo: Hannes de Beer)
While it is not unusual for there to be quite a few new faces every year at the Tony Stoops Rugby Festival, the 2016 version, the ninth in the series, which takes place at HS Tygerberg in Parow between Saturday 19 and Wednesday 23 March, will doubtless be greatly enhanced by the presence of no fewer than four new entrants from the northern part of the country.
And, if Pietersburg, Jeugland, Piet Retief and Ligbron Academy don’t get the occasional pulse racing, well, two teams from Shawnigan Lake of Canada will be contributing a most welcome international flavour to proceedings.
Thirty-six 1st XVs from around the country will be testing their mettle against one another in a showcase of young talent which, unlike the other concurrent and Easter gatherings, does not have to resort to including a Development or Invitation XV to pay lip service to multiracialism.
True, many of the historically less-advantaged institutions simply don’t measure up to the lofty standards set as prerequisites for admission to the so-called elite events, but one would do well to note that not one of the teams from these schools at TSRF are there due to their skin colour, to put it bluntly.
They are always among the first teams to be invited because of the lovely running style of rugby they play.
And that is exactly what the eight TSRFs to date have been all about: enjoying the games on the field, enjoying the fellowship engendered, enjoying making new friends and, in an ever-increasing number of cases, enjoying exploring the natural beauty of the Cape Peninsula.
The full list of participants is:
Boland : Hugenote, Swartland, Hopefield, Emil Weder, Porterville, Paulus Joubert, Groendal, Worcester Gym, Lutzville, Klein Nederburg, Schoonspruit, Vredenburg, Montana, Weston, Robertson, Vredenburg;
Blue Bulls : Sutherland;
EP : Victoria Park, Alexander Road, Humansdorp Secondary, Otto du Plessis, Aliwal North, Nico Malan, Cillié;
Limpopo Blue Bulls : Pietersburg;
Pumas : Ligbron, Piet Retief;
SWD : York, Oudtshoorn, Langenhoven High;
Valke : Jeugland;
WP : Tygerberg, HTS Bellville, Jan Kriel, De Kuilen, Parow;
Canada : Shawnigan Lake.
Pietersburg, the leading side in Limpopo province, probably boast the most impressive CV among the new sides, but their last visit to the Cape didn’t start well when they were thrashed 74-5 by Paarl Gym at the Paul Roos 150 Day last year.
Ligbron Academy have attended several Oakdale festivals and are also likely to prove a handful for their Cape opposition, while their fellow Pumas Piet Retief might be something of an unknown quantity. Jeugland will be determined to prove to spectators that archrivals Kempton Park are not the only team worth talking about from that corner of Valke territory.
Of the other debutants, Humansdorp Secondary come with the most impressive credentials. They won the Maties Top Schools Small School section in fine style, disposing of WP qualifiers Malibu 42-19 at Coetzenburg at the end of August 2015.
Other first-timers from the Eastern Cape are PE’s Cillié and Aliwal North from the banks of the Orange River.
The Boland provides Paarl’s Paulus Joubert and tiny Lutzville, whose side performed such remarkable heroics in the local league last winter.
It is particularly encouraging for the organizers to welcome HTS Bellville, a school with a proud tradition, but which has been down on its luck over the last few years. All the signs point to a renaissance of sorts at the northernmost end of Voortrekker Road and their progress will doubtless be closely monitored.
The only information to hand about Canadian visitors Shawnigan Lake is that the school is one of the largest boarding schools on the North American continent. Numbers often come hand in with quality, so they should prove to be a big drawcard.
08:30 De Kuilen vs Shawnigan Lake (Canada)
09:45 Nico Malan vs Ligbron
11:00 Worcester Gym vs Jeugland
12:45 Hugenote vs Piet Retief
14:00 Swartland vs Aliwal North
15:15 Tygerberg vs Pietersburg
08:30 York vs Sutherland
09:45 Oudtshoorn vs Klein Nederburg
11:00 Paulus Joubert vs Langenhoven High
12:45 HTS Bellville vs Humansdorp Sec
14:00 Lutzville vs Emil Weder
15:15 Schoonspruit vs Otto du Plessis
08:30 Groendal vs Jan Kriel
09:45 Hopefield vs Cillié
11:00 Porterville vs Victoria Park
12:45 Robertson vs Alexander Road
14:00 Montana (Bol) vs Weston
15:15 Vredenburg vs Parow
Such has been the pressure exerted on the organizers that this year will also see twelve netball sides strutting their stuff on the beautiful facilities above the school buildings.
Drostdy North-South Festival
The good news for schools rugby followers down south is that, no sooner has the TSRF run its course, but the Drostdy North-South Festival takes over, with matches scheduled to be played over the Easter weekend, on Thursday 24, Saturday 26 and Monday 28 March at Trappespark.
While there may only be a handful of sides, several of them have quite impressive reputations.
The hosts are joined by New Orleans, HTS Daniel Pienaar from Uitenhage, Potchefstroom Volkskool, Transvalia and Marais Viljoen, the last four not having played this far south for a very long time.
The full programme appears in the Fixtures section of this site.