(Photo Credit: Jorina Raath/Speedshots.co.za)
With another weekend of brilliant schoolboy rugby in South Africa as New Zealand to look forward to, myself will be watching some New Zealand schoolboy rugby in the early hours and then pack my backs and make my way to St John's who is hosting a brilliant KES 1stXV.
New Zealand is in their 3rd weekend of most of the competitions while some competitions are still in qualifying mode. The friendly that attracts the most interest is that between Hastings BHS ranked #6 and St Pat's Town at #13 should provide a lot of action.
Crusaders Championship - Early days in this competition with four teams still unbeaten. Three of the top four teams of 2018 are among the unbeaten with St Andrew's College who ended in the lower half on the log. Christchurch BHS, winners in 2018 travels to St Thomas in what should see Christchurch maintain their place on the top of the log. St Bede's seemingly having the biggest battle to maintain their unbeaten record travels to Nelson College who lost to St Andrew's College 31-33. St Andrew's hosts Waimea Combine while Christ College travels to Mid Canterbury Combined who is looking for their first win in 2019.
Auckland Premier 1A - The game in this competition and maybe even in the whole of New Zealand is between King's College and Auckland Grammar, with both teams still unbeaten in this competition. De La Salle College and Aorere College are two of the other unbeaten teams with Aorere who hosts St Peter's College, also unbeaten the most likely to not be unbeaten after round number 3. And then the new number 1 in New Zealand St Kentigerns host Dilworth School and will most likely maintain their unbeaten record too.
North Harbour 1A - Only two unbeaten teams left. Westlake BHS host Massey High School while Whangarei BHS have a bye this weekend. Westlake BHS should remain unbeaten.
Another weekend pack with so much action that you can stream games the whole of Saturday evening and Sunday and still not being able to watch them all.
Central Region: The game everybody in the Central Region and for most of the rest of South Africa will have eyes on is that between Grey College and Affies. Nodoby seems willing to bet on the outcome but the bets are streaming in on the margin with which Grey will beat Affies. Diamantveld who found their groove at the Wildeklawer festival and continued their fine form against Noord Kaap host Voortrekker Beth in what should also see Diamantveld smiles growing bigger and bigger.
Eastern Cape: Do not expect any surprises with St Andrew's College one of the favourites to end as the number one side in the Eastern Cape.
KwaZulu Natal: A struggling Glenwood will be happy to have an easier than the normal weekend when they travel to Kearsney who might just challenge them more than anybody care to think. My money is on Glenwood but... The game between Northwood and Michaelhouse maybe the game to be at this weekend. Both schools having a better than an average season at this stage. Westville will be on a high after their away win against Affies but unfortunately, Hilton will not be that an easy target. Hilton is unbeaten apart from the game they lost against St Andrew's College at the Kingswood Festival.
NoordVaal: Take a deep breath as the action in this region will not give you a chance to take another for quite a while. Monnas travels to Garsies and surprisingly are not the favourites to win this one. Garsfontein will not be as stupid as the rest of the country to underestimate Monnas. The battle of the weekend?
Helpmekaar travels to an EG Jansen who's revival is just short of a miracle with Helpmekaar not as a clearcut favourite than one would have predicted at the start of the season. EG Jansen's pack of forwards are not only going to test Helpmekaar but the battle in the loose is going to be epic, six boys that count as some of the best in the country. EG Jansen's physicality may just be the difference.
The third VirSeker Cup match between a high riding Waterkloof and Menlopark will also be worthwhile to attend. Waterkloof, however, should be able to win this one. Should?
Middelburg and Oos Moot should provide some fireworks, Middelburg HTS vs Transvalia, Marais Viljoen vs Nelspruit and this list continues and continues and continues.
In the "Soutie" league I will attend a KES who is ranked number 10 in the country and who will want to show that they deserve the position. However, the St John's team that I saw at the St John's festival is not going to be a pushover. I can not wait. Jeppe who lost three from eight games and have the majority of boys selected in the Lions Craven Week A side will be carefully watched as they play st Stithians who lost 31-54 to KES last weekend.
Western Cape (Uncle Tony Stoops says:)
Top of the bill is the Paul Roos vs Paarl Gym game at the Markotter, although in the South Western Cape many would claim that more accurately describes the Outeniqua vs Oakdale match. In addition, we have the second round of the southern suburbs derbies, with Wynberg at home to Bishops and SACS off to face in-form Rondebosch on the Tinkie Heyns paddock.
Most of Stellenbosch will be holding its collective breath as the Young Maties face their first real test of 2019. The teams at the World Schools event and SANIX didn’t provide enough of a challenge to Ruben Labuschagne and his team-mates. At the same time, Paarl Gym will be hell-bent on restoring their pride that was dented by Grey College at Wildeklawer.
Rondebosch and SACS both struggled to express themselves against Brackenfell, but that’s about where the comparisons end. Bosch has been in unstoppable form since losing honourably to Paul Roos. St Andrew’s of Grahamstown, Grey High and Boland Landbou will all countersign any affidavit to that effect.
The guests might be assembling for the WP Premier A party, but it’s the last weekend before most Boland schools go into examination mode.
By far the biggest match sees Schoonspruit host Piketberg at the Wesbank grounds for their Classic Clash, while Robertson welcome Swartland to red wine central, Worcester Gym visit Hermanus, Charlie Hofmeyr put a few weeks of inactivity behind them as Stellenbosch come to Ceres, Augsburg Gym have an interesting assignment away to Lutzville and Dirkie Uys take on Bredasdorp on the coast.
Two WP Premier B ties look interesting. In the first Helderberg derby contested with both sides on an equal footing Strand will be up against a very chastened Parel Vallei side who came face to face with their shortcomings in vivid colour at Rondebosch seven days ago. The hosts aren’t doing too well themselves, so a win for the Bulldogs is on the cards.
Tygerberg’s yo-yo existence continues. Their last three matches have seen them lose 17-61 to Boland Landbou, thrash Strand 50-24 and get drilled 62-14 at home by Durbanville. This weekend they welcome close neighbours DF Malan, who, if anything, are in even more of a rut. Your money should be safe if you put it on the Tygers.
I can not wait, let the games begin.