First Two Weeks …….. Hopefully Not The Last

Remember me, the Flying Dutchman ?  It was back in 2016 that SACS enrolled young
Jordy Hop, from the Netherlands, on the basis of a recording of his rugby-playing
abilities.  He lived up to his own hype, scoring some 280 points for the first
team in the next two seasons before returning home.  He was obviously
a keen learner, as he now plays left wing for the Netherlands
national team, as pictured here.  (photo: supplied)

As we stand on the threshold of the indeterminate cancellation of not only all sporting, but also many social gatherings that we take for granted in our daily lives, allow me to lighten your mood to some extent with a look at the results of the schoolboy fixtures played in the opening two Saturdays of the Western Cape season.

As you are well aware, this may in the end represent little more than a wistful look at what might have been this season, but, on a positive note, it is a start, hopefully of things to come later in the year.

The opening weekend, Saturday 7 March 2020, saw two of the more prominent SWD schools take on Eastern Cape opposition in a Southern Cape Schools Day in George.

Langenhoven Gym were edged out 19-12 by Pearson, an indication that the Summerstrand school may well boast a useful squad this year. 

The main game, between Outeniqua and Die Brandwag, was eagerly anticipated, if for no other reason than that informed chatter has it that the Quaggas were set to field as incisive a backline as any of recent years. 

The hosts duly came out on top 38-5, but only two of their six tries were scored by the fast boys, one each by scrumhalf Philip Fouché and left wing Jujade Coeries.  Hooker François Breytenbach crossed the whitewash twice and centre Johan Leonard converted four of the five-pointers.

Fast forward seven days to 14 March 2020 and Outeniqua recorded an almost identical result, trouncing Waterkloof 38-7, at the Loftus Day.  While Breytenbach and Coeries each added to their tallies and Leonard doubled his conversion tally, right wing Casten Michaels put his experience from 2019 to good use, notching a hat-trick.

The three Western Province representatives enjoyed mixed fortunes.  While Stellenberg had little difficulty dispatching Frikkie Meyer 27-3 and Paarl Gym set out their stall with a comfortable 38-0 defeat of Pretoria Boys’ High, Boland Landbou found HTS Middelburg a tough nut to crack, losing honourably 19-24.  

Several prominent names from last season made their presence felt: flyhalf CJ Snyman contributed to the Farmers’ score from the tee, Curwin Gertse dotted down at outside centre for Gym and inside centre Meyr Retief registered seven points for the Jade Brigade side he now captains.

The feature games at the Brackenfell High Sports Weekend didn’t really live up to expectations. 

Bellville were outclassed 57-6 by SACS, for whom wing Philisande Nqobo (three tries), lock Enos Ndiao (two tries) and the Kreymborgs, centre Kyle (one try) and pivot Jadon (six conversions) all featured on the scoresheet.

Durbanville gave notice of their intention to take up where they left off last year with a 50-21 success against Strand.  No fewer than seven of the Durbies scored tries, the returning veterans being centre Corné Oliphant, no. 9 Ruan Steyn and hooker Ronaldo Ismail.

Oakdale dismantled a WP Talent Identification Problem, which failed miserably to live up to its name, 66-0.  Old hands included left wing Tino Singe (three tries), lanky blond lock Corné Rahl (one try) and inside centre Alwich van der Linde, who contributed 21 points via a try and eight conversions.

The result of the main game was something of a surprise, hosts Brackenfell, whom Durbanville had thrashed 50-0 in their short-format game at Newlands earlier in the week, beating Swartland 17-10.

And so to the Porterville Centenary Bulfees, which personal circumstances unfortunately prevented me from attending for the first time in many years. 

As has become the custom, the event represents something like a debutants ball for as many Paarl Boys’ High teams as opposition can be found for.  There was enormous interest in the 1st XV game as their opponents were fellow national heavyweights Monument from Klerksdorp.

Predictably, the outcome was a very cagey, fractious affair.  “Cagey” because neither side was willing to risk too much for fear of being found wanting in defence, “fractious” because several relatively minor incidents perhaps called for firmer disciplinary action by the local union referee, who, in his defence, is very unlikely ever to have been in charge of such a high profile fixture before.

As a result neither side produced really outstanding play, although Monna’s fullback Luan van der Walt did round off a lovely, expansive move for his side’s only try as they succumbed 10-17, largely due to the tee-work of Boishaai pivot Compion von Ludwig.

Whether it was familiarity with this quaint manner of officiating or simply the absence of any pressure on the players, the two curtain-raisers both produced much more memorable encounters.

Hopefield showed that the departure of much of their 2019 dream-team didn’t signal an end to their production line as they defeated Overberg 27-12, four of their five tries coming from the back five in the scrum.  The team from Caledon can be fairly satisfied with their display: they lost the corresponding fixture last season at the same venue 48-12.

Pride of place definitely went to the host school, who put Robertson, one of the most formidable sides in the Boland in recent years, to the sword 43-21, thanks largely to a virtuoso performance by slightly-built flyhalf Wayden Baadjies, whose two tries, five conversions and a penalty catapulted him into the early lead in the Western Cape scorer table.

Of course, the team will tell you that the victory was the perfect 50th birthday present for the team’s much-loved manager Marius “Diffy” van Deventer.

The only other game to feature a Premier A level side took place at Trappespark in Worcester, where HTS Drostdy converted a 12-10 half-time advantage into a 34-22 victory over Wynberg.  Inside centre Keane Galant accounted for seventeen of the hosts’ points, while wing Thaaqib Ryland and powerful outside centre Ebenezer Tshivanga both dotted down twice for the Berg.

There were several other matches around the region, the most impressive scoreline being Montagu’s 52-24 home triumph over a Piketberg side who had experienced little difficulty in beating Cederberg Academy 24-17 in Citrusdal the previous weekend.

Hermanus finished strongly to beat Punt 26-22 in Mossel Bay, Charlie Hofmeyr edged DF Malan 15-10, Augsburg Gym lost 19-20 to Monument Park, Worcester Gym held off Vredendal to win 17-10, while, in the course of the preceding week, Schoonspruit got their campaign under way with home wins over Waveren of Tulbagh (35-7) and Grabouw’s Groenberg (22-7).

And now we wait. 

The statistics, which are the express  function of this site, tell one that, if - and I’m afraid that’s a very big if - school sport recommences on 15 April, this being the last date bandied about, the Western Cape season will have lost a massive 170 scheduled games.

While the Oakdale and TSRF account for the majority (around 100), the others include the two North-South, Grey High, Affies Centenary and all the Easter festivals, in other words all the events that help determine the national rankings as they are only ones in which the cream of the different provinces get to face off. 

Then you can add the sixteen Wildeklawer matches our sides would have contested and the total lost is 186 out of the 517 matches on my master fixture list.  Let’s be optimistic and allow twelve games for the Wynberg Festival at the end of April and another fourteen for the Swartland Winter event at the end of the June holidays. 

Goodbye, 186 out of 543 matches.  That’s just over 34%, which also includes Outeniqua’s  highly anticipated home match against Paarl Boys’ High and the HTS Drostdy-Oakdale game in Worcester, both of which were down for 4 April 2020, the only Saturday of local league rugby.  

Schoolboy rugby is a large part of my life, as is the case with many of you.  Please don’t take unnecessary risks; hopefully, we will see this trying time through together.

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