Graeme College Team Ready To Embrace Rugby Day Challenge


The enjoyment of getting back to some sort of normality on the sports playing fields will be uppermost in his players’ minds in the Graeme College Rugby Day, sponsored by Buco, on March 19 in Makhanda, says Graeme coach Jonty van der Meulen.

The boys and the coaching staff have endured an agonising two years during which the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to the vast majority of sporting fixtures and Van der Meulen knows this is something they will have to deal with going forward.

Graeme take on Selborne College in the feature match of the day (4.10pm), which will see the cream of the Eastern Cape’s schools preparing their players for the forthcoming season.

“I think, as a school, we are just looking forward to seeing the players getting the enjoyment out of playing the sport again,” the experienced first team coach said.

“We do understand that it has been very difficult to build any momentum over the last two years because we had a limited number of fixtures, but there was obviously nothing we could do about that.

“After virtually no rugby in 2020, we only managed to play four matches last year, which were scattered over a period of time. But on a positive note, a few players who are back from last year have had the experience of playing at a first team level.”

Van der Meulen said the team had been together as a group since October, continuing their training in January with field sessions.

“We have focused on running a good pre-season and making sure we put players under pressure in scenarios similar to that of matches,” he added.

“We are optimistic about the talented group of players in the squad, although it is difficult making assumptions as the boys have played so little since they were U15, having missed their U16 and U17 seasons.

“Although Craven Week did not take place last year, Lulundi Nopote, Liselihle Maphekula and Abongile Ngandi were selected for EP and they are back this year.”

Besides an internal trial game, Graeme will warm up for their big day with a fixture against Makhanda rivals Kingswood on March 12.

Regarding their match on the day, Van der Meulen said they embraced the challenge of taking on “one of the top rugby schools in the Eastern Cape”.

“This is what we have done in the past and it will be no different this year as we try to prove what we have to offer –there is no better stage for that than our own rugby day.

“Selborne have always possessed a good power game, so we realise we must contain their physicality and then focus on our strengths and play at our own tempo.”

The fixtures are:
Somerset field: 8.00: Pearson v Mary Waters; 9.10: Hudson Park v Nico Malan; 10.20: Cambridge v Muir; 11.30: Dale v Marlow Agricultural; 12.40: Grey High v Brandwag; 13.50: St Andrew’s v Framesby; 15.00: Kingswood v Queen’s; 16.10: Graeme v Selborne