It was a week that everybody, and I mean everybody in Paarl took sides. In the bank, Pick and Pay, Engen and everywhere else I went, all had just one thing on their mind. Nobody was afraid to give their prediction, but when I asked why they predicted a win for their team they looked at me as if I was stupid. These were the friendly ones.
Eating breakfast at the Proviant or supper at De Leuwen proved to be very difficult. The food and service was excellent but it was here where all the "knowledgeable" people seemed to hang out. Dressed as I was, and arriving in my GP Volla I was accepted like I would have been in Waterkloof, Sandton or wherever "grand" in this beautiful country of ours. After witnessing me ordering a "decent" bottle of red wine, never saw Tassies on any of the menus???, the questions began.
Who am I?, what am I doing in Paarl?, do I know of the interschools? Questions questions questions. And then they started to teach me about the game called rugby. And strangely enough they explained the game almost to a tee to what their team's game plan is. One gentleman said the difference between these two teams was the coaching. And that is where Gym is going to win it. "Do you know the Springbok Pieter Rossouw?" he asked and I replied "Slaptjips?". "Nee man dis nie Gauteng nie hier verkoop hulle nie slaptjips nie. Miskien by die Wimpy." was the aggitated reply. And I knew I have a real "rugbykenner" here.
So to summarise the Paarl during Interschools week. Not your average town or dorp. Beautiful peoples people and then the others. From clerks to farmers to lawyers, all squeezed in between two mountains. Waterkloof, Garsfontein, Krugersdorp and Naboomspruit all in one. I must however admit that my feet enjoyed themselves the most during the two days I spent with Oom Alfie and Tannie Doris. A story for another day.
Then came match day. I had to walk 3 km's. An average of 5 points the winning margin. A close game is expected at Interschools, making the victory that extra bit sweeter and all the more bitter for the defeated team. More than 22 000 excited spectators packed into the ground. Boishaai vs Paarl Gym, Galpille vs Bloedworse.
Paarl Boys High showed their class when they rallied in the second half to come from behind and edge past Paarl Gymnasium to hold on for a deserved 26-25 win. The first half belonged to the team from the North of Paarl and Gymnasium showed why they are so highly rated. Scoring the only try of the first half they went into the lead at halftime by 11-6, but the Boys High machine kicked into gear in the second half to secure the thrilling win.
Gymnasium put the first points on the board through a penalty from flyhalf Theo Boshoff in the 4th minute of the game when Boys High went offside. 2 minutes later Gianni Lombard leveled the scores for the same offense from Gymnasium and at 3-3, the real game started in earnest after the first early jitters was shaken off.
Boshoff again converted a penalty after a ruck offense and Gymnasium was 6-3 up after 10 minutes. Boishaai then went on the attack after a great grubber from Lombaard and a subsequent steal in the line out. The Gymnasium defense held tight and Lombaard opted for a drop goal to even the scores at 6 all after 20 minutes.
Paarl Boys showed some glimpses what they are capable of when right wing Urgene Johannes broke midfield on the counter attack, but possession was turned over and Gim worked their way back into the Boys High half. Big 8th man Muller Uys broke from a scrum and made some hard yards, from the resulting ruck, captain and scrumhalf Zak Burger broke to the blind, threw a dummy and went over for the first try. Boshoff could not convert and the remainder of the half was played out with the score 11-6 in favour of Paarl Gymnasium.
Paarl Boys came out in the second half determined to even up the scoring and immediately went on attack. Centre Manny Rass put in a great defence tackle, gathered the ball again and put Boys High on the front foot. The ball went wide to the left and 8th man Khanya Ncusane went over but was adjudged to be held up in the tackle. Boys High did get a penalty and it was dually converted by Lombard to bring the score to 11-9. Muller Uys went on a bullocking run down the left and offloaded into the tackle to centre Chris Willemse who passed to ball into the hands of Boys High scrumhalf Michael Visser. Paarl Boys won a penalty and when Visser went for the quick tap he was twice interfered by Gymnasium players which resulted in a yellow card for left wing Muller du Plessis for cynical play. Paarl Boys took the line out and hit to the left with a great run from winger Takir Abrahams. He was tackled just short and from the ruck Boys High went wide to the right again for Ncusane to score his team’s first try in the corner. Lombard missed the conversion and with the score at 14-11, the blue team went into the lead for the first time. Five minutes later they conceded the lead again when Chris Willemse went over after a quick tap penalty was taken. Boshoff converted and Paarl Gymnasium again was in the lead 18-14.
It was at this stage with 15 minutes to go that the Boys High machine kicked into top gear. Rass broke brilliantly on the outside and offloaded to Lombard who went over the line but was again held up by some good defensive tackling. The received a penalty and kicked for the corner. From the line out the pack drove for the try line and hooker Daniel Jooste was credited with the team try. Lombard missed the conversion and Paarl Boys held a slender 19-18 lead.
Another penalty got Boys High into the Gymnasium 22 again and from the line out they applied the same technique and again Jooste scored from a driving maul. Lombard converted the crucial kick and Paarl Boys was leading 26-18 with some 7 minutes of play left. Gymnasium however was not done yet and came back fighting. Boshoff went over for a try after relentless pressure form Gym and converted his own try. With the score at 26-15 the last couple of minutes were set up for a humdinger. Paarl Boys took control of the ball and played the last minutes in the opponents 22m area. They won a penalty and from the line out, Franck Horn went over but again were held up by some superb defense. Paarl Boys did not allow Gymnasium to get out of their own 22 for the last 5 minutes and with time up on the clock, they managed a turnover and Visser kicked the ball high into the stand to end a memorable Interschools match.
For Paarl Boys' High:
Tries: Daniel Jooste 2, Khanya Ncusane
Cons: Gianni Lombaard
Pens: Gianni Lombaard 2
Drop: Gianni Lombard
For Paarl Gymnasium:
Tries: Zak Burger, Chris Willemse, Theo Boshoff
Con: Theo Boshoff 2
Pens: Theo Boshoff 2
Paarl Boys' High: 15 Gianni Lombaard, 14 Urgene Johannes, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Hanri van Heerden, 11 Takir Abrahams, 10 Rayhaan Lombard, 9 Michael Visser, 8 Khanya Ncusane, 7 Francke Horn, 6 Charl Serdyn, 5 Ewie Loubser, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Adam Neethling, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Reece Bezuidenhout,
Replacements: 16 Wilhelm Barnard, 17 MJ Strauss, 18 Armandt Conradie, 19 Vian Fourie, 20 Eric Myburgh, 21 Tiaan du Plessis, 22 Gerdre Ferreira, 23 Riaan Barnard
Paarl Gymnasium: 15 Wian van Zyl, 14 Jan Jordaan, 13 Christopher Willemse, 12 Wian van Niekerk, 11 Muller du Plessis, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Muller Uys, 7 Henco Martins, 6 Janus Swart, 5 Raymond Nel, 4 Adriaan Ludick, 3 Adriaan Staples, 2 Sehan du Toit, 1 André Booysen
Replacements: 16 Michael Houndsome, 17 Daniël Wessels, 18 Francois Staples, 19 Bryan Buitendag, 20 Ryno Beukes, 21 Bernu Engelbrecht, 22 Morné Buxmann, 23 Ryno Boonzaaier
Referee: Egon Seconds (Western Province Referees' Society)
Assistant referees: Mornay Colville (Western Province Referees' Society), Jaco Smith (Western Province Referees' Society)
On Sunday morning as I pointed the Volla's nose to Cape Town I thought by myself, so glad this game was played here. If it was played anywhere else in this country North and South would have been divided by a high wall. The defense force would have to outnumber the spectators. Barb wire lining the routes back home. Till next year Paarl till next year.