A Town Divided By Colour?



This town's rivalry started in 1915 when masters, schoolboys and old boys all played together, defending their school's honour on the sport field. This was the format up to 1927 after which was decided that the interschools matches should only be played by the schoolboys and the current format as we know today started officially in 1929.

101 years later, the rivalry between these two schools is still going strong. In the week preceding the derby , maybe a bit longer, the town is divided between North and South, between Gimmie (Gimnasium) and Boishaaier (Boy’s High), between Bloedwors and Galpil. The blue and white of Boishaai and the maroon, green and gold of Paarl Gim are on full display as the rivalry goes into hyper drive!

In the week of interschool’s the town becomes divided, territories marked either White and Blue or Maroon Orange and Green. Overnight the streets of Paarl are lined with the colours of the teams. An entire town is decked out in school colours. Blues, white, maroon, orange, and green deck the lamp-posts, the traffic lights, the trees along the main road; posters hang on buildings and fences.These colours will feature on almost every tree, gate, porch or window of Main Street Paarl. Not only are the Boishaaiers in their blue and white and Gimmies in their green, gold and red, everyone, from the youngest ‘oaks’ to the oldest ‘oaks’, get involved. Even the doughnuts at the Engen garage are iced in school colours.

The transformation that transpires in the town tucked between the transcendent Paarl Rock and the Du Toits Kloof mountain range can only be understood by those who experience the Boys’ High vs Gim Interschools firsthand. Since 1929, each first week of August that passes, the competition has intensified, and the 2016 Interschool’s will be no different. 

How long this tradition will last was beautifully illustrated with my last visit in 2014.  A first interschool for Boishaai coach Sean Erasmus. A match that lived up to all the expectations. Boishaai was trailing by 16 - 8 but after brilliant play scored a try in the dying minutes of the match. My side of the stand erupted with joy. Next to me sat an old lady dressed in the blue and white of Boishaai and as we all sat down awaiting the conversion kick she turned to me and said  "Yassus, ek kan nie meer nie (Geez, I can't take it any more)." The conversion was good. Boishaai still 1 point behind. But the the final whistle was blown! Paarl Gimnasium won. A wave of Maroon Orange and Green engulfed the rugby field. Everybody hugging everybody. Half of the town was happy, very happy. As the old lady stood up to leave she looked at me and said "Moenie worry nie, volgende jaar is die jaar." And how right she was.

May there always be a Volgende Jaar.