What Have The Last Four Weeks Taught Us ?


Hopping mad !  SACS centre Jordy Hop escapes the clutches of several Ligbron defenders in his
side’s 60-14 win on Saturday 1 April, day one of TSRF 2017.  (photo courtesy of Axshon Shots)


It might not seem like it, but Saturday 22 April 2017 is actually the first day of the local league season.  Such has been the whirl of activity, starting with the numerous one-day extravaganzas on 25 March and continuing with the various festivals over the short Easter holidays, that one could be forgiven for thinking that the season was well under way.

Let’s have an (alphabetical) look at how the local top dogs have kicked off their 2017 campaigns.


25 March : beat Porterville 34-10 in Porterville;
1 April     : beat St Andrew’s (Gtn) 29-21 in Grahamstown;
3 April     : beat Kingswood 16-13 in Grahamstown.

Not great fans of the potential rigours of the three-match Easter festivals, the Platinum Blues took their early preparations deep into the countryside, showing some of their customary deft touches, particularly by right wing Murray Bruce and centre Reece Meyer in a comfortable win in Porterville.

Although many people might not be aware of it, the match against arch-rivals St Andrew’s is the must-win game in the Rondebosch side’s programme, so one can be sure that they derived immense satisfaction not only from beating the Saints, but going one further a few days later and avenging last season’s home defeat at the hands of Kingswood.

Although many might point out that their opposition thus far has not been particularly daunting, the early promise shown by a relatively inexperienced squad definitely bodes well for the rest of 2017.

Boland Landbou

25 March : beat Windhoek High 83-5 at Paul Roos Day;
1 April     : beat EG Jansen 65-21 at North-South Festival (Tshwane);
4 April     : lost to Garsfontein 41-43 at North-South Festival (Tshwane).

Every year the Farmers try their best to start the season without any fanfare.  Although they whacked the Namibians at the Markotter, they managed to keep their ultra-sharp backline under wraps, giving nothing away, at the Newlands Day.

Just when this cool-headed policy seemed set to be successful, the likes of Darren Hendricks, Durin Nasson, Luther McKay and Duren Hoffman having punched a succession of holes in a punchdrunk EG Jansen defence, they ran into the brick wall that is Garsfontein, whose victory some observers put down to the Tshwane side’s exposure to tense Cup rugby, which arguably teaches to keep your foot on gas right up to the final whistle.

Whatever the reasoning, Oloff Bergh’s lads will be hell-bent on banishing that last result to the vault of unpleasant memories, starting on Saturday. 

HTS Drostdy

15 March : lost to San Isidro (Argentina) 13-21 at home;
25 March : lost to Paul Roos 19-32 at Paul Roos Day; 
  1 April   : beat Marais Viljoen 27-19 at North-South Festival (Worcester);
  3 April   : drew 26-26 with Transvalia at North-South Festival (Worcester);
  5 April   : beat Middelburg 48-5 at North-South Festival (Worcester);
13 April   : beat Kearsney 45-17 at Kearsney Easter Festival;
15 April   : beat Dale College 26-25 at Kearsney Easter Festival;
17 April   : beat Pretoria BHS 29-5 at Kearsney Easter Festival.

Realising that, if they want a full dance-card, they have to grab any matches that come their way, the Donkeys have enjoyed a good run of form after their traditional iffy opening showings.

Exciting backs like scrumhalf Romeo Eksteen, centre Berto le Roux and rising stars Cohen Jasper, Stuart Baxter and Christie Grobbelaar are already putting their hands up for higher recognition. 

Not that the big guys, spearheaded by lock Bron-Lee Mouries and hooker Greyling Geldenhuys, are content with just being also-rans in what looks like being a vintage year, provided, of course, that they don’t suddenly go visibly off the boil like they did for a long spells against both Dale and, two days later, Pretoria Boys’ High. 


11 March : beat San Isidro (Argentina) 17-15 at the Wittedrift Loerier Festival;
25 March : lost to France Under 17 22-31 at Paul Roos Day;
  1 April   : beat Kempton Park 50-7 at Oakdale Mutual and Federal Agri Festival;
  3 April   : beat Diamantveld 34-6 at Oakdale Mutual and Federal Agri Festival;
  5 April   : beat Potchefstroom Gym 66-12 at Oakdale Mutual and Federal Agri Festival.

Despite the slight hiccup against a very intimidating and equally efficient French national Under 17 side, the Bulls have charged along pretty well in lower third gear, their matches at their own festival not really providing them with quite the same quality of opposition as some of the other top Western Cape sides have had to face.

The key playmakers all boast first team sexperience from 2016.  Centre Jay-Cee Nel and full-back Pietie Uys utilise the possession secured by their spirited eight, in which loose-head Dian Bleuler is prominent, and distributed by exciting scrumhalf Lian du Toit.

The jury’s still out, but one can’t help but think that this week’s encounter might present their faithful with a fuller picture.


11 March : beat Sentraal (FS) 59-19 at Brandfort Rugby Day;
25 March : beat Brackenfell 27-15 at Brackenfell Sports Day;
  1 April   : lost 30-49 to Menlopark at North-South Tshwane;
  4 April   : lost 15-34 to Waterkloof at North-South Tshwane.

The flattering win against Sentraal was soon put into perspective in the next three games.  After a commendable run of successful teams, the Quaggas seem to have hit something like a dead end.

True, there are sublimely talented players like centre Emilio Otto, hooker Stephan Leonard and busy no 8 Andreas Breytenbach, but, if they can’t rise to the occasion in the next few weeks, 2017 might just be their annus horribilis.

Paarl Boys’ High 

27 March : beat Sacred Heart (NZ) 24-8 in New Zealand;
1 April     : beat Gisborne (NZ) 73-3 in New Zealand;
5 April     : beat Nelson College (NZ) 75-12 in New Zealand;
8 April     : lost to Christchurch (NZ) 36-38 in New Zealand;
13 April   : beat Eye of the Tiger 57-0 at St John’s Easter Festival;
15 April   : beat Combined NSW Schools (Australia) 65-0 at St John’s Easter Festival;
17 April   : beat Affies 14-10 at St John’s Easter Festival.

Putting the administrative and other problems of their New Zealand tour behind them, the Strepies happily met their long-standing St John’s obligations, starting with two fairly toothless sets of opponents, and closing with a titanic win over Affies, this on a day on which their line-outs weren’t quite firing and their first-choice pivot was forced off early.

The forwards are looking ominous, no. 8 Francke Horn and flank Vion Fourie already high on the try-scoring and metres-gained charts.  The backline has the advantage of comprising relative unknowns, apart from wing Thakir Abrahams, but there is no sign that a shortage of reputations in any way diminishes their attacking threat, as outside centre Divan Enslin and recently acquired full-back Abner van Reenen have already amply illustrated.

It will take a great side to beat them this year.  Now, where have you read that before ?

Paarl Gym

17 March : beat Stellenberg 31-19 at home;
25 March : beat Affies 35-33 at home;
1 April     : beat Garsfontein 46-17 at North-South Festival (Tshwane);
4 April     : beat EG Jansen 39-10 at North-South Festival (Tshwane).

In a fairly bold departure from their traditionally very slow starts to the season, Gym had two games under their belts before all their other immediate rivals.

Despite fears that the fairly narrow win over Stellenberg suggested potential problems, their nail-biting victory over very highly-rated Affies soon had the doubters biting their tongues.  Such is their apparent confidence that they have allowed one of their coaches, Pieter Rossouw, permission to coach overseas in mid-season !

He may have missed the first game, but Muller du Plessis took up where he left off last winter against Affies, while no. 8 Henco Martins has been in irrepressible form, registering three hat-tricks of tries in just four starts !

Paul Roos

25 March : beat HTS Drostdy 32-19 at home;
13 April   : beat Nelspruit 44-6 at St John’s Easter Festival;
15 April   : beat Helpmekaar 25-22 at St John’s Easter Festival;
17 April   : beat Parktown  61-12 at St John’s Easter Festival.

Any fears that the departure of Damian Willemse and Joshua Vermeulen would mean doom and gloom at the Markotter have already been dealt a resounding blow, their victory over Nelspruit having been eclipsed by the monumental – and massively entertaining – win against Helpmekaar and the dazzling fifteen-man devastation of Parktown. 

New backline stars have emerged in wing Remy Engelbrecht and full-back Colia Louis, while the forwards have a ruthless look about them, with flank Philip van Dyk and lock Breyten Maritz leading the way.  An added bonus is the form of props Cameron Dawson, Tristan Leitch and Alexander Mbete.


1 April   : beat Pietersburg 50-3 at TSRF;
13 April : beat Jeppe 26-0 at KES Easter Festival;
15 April : lost to KES 17-25 at KES Easter Festival. 

Wary of the importance of the league-opener against Wynberg and the two-match obligation of Cape Schools Week, Bosch opted for a TSRF warm-up and only two games at KES.

Considering the number of players they have back this year, they haven’t exactly set the world on fire, even if KES does boast a very impressive first team this year.

Versatile scrumhalf(/flyhalf) captain Robbie Davis and pivot van der Bijl “Byle” Blake look solid, but need to bring Zaka Sallie and DJ Falconer into action quicker.  Front-rowers Suhaib Ajmoodien and Chulu Mputing are always in the thick of the tight exchanges,


1 April   : beat Ligbron Academy 6-14 at TSRF;
13 April : beat Michaelhouse 28-0 at St Stithian’s Easter Festival;
15 April : beat Durban HS 20-16 at St Stithian’s Easter Festival;
17 April : beat St Andrew’s (Gtn) 24-15 at St Stithian’s Easter Festival.

The way the Young Ikeys tore a very respectable Ligbron side apart had everyone abuzz about this being their year before an enterprising DHS side came close to putting paid to that notion.

Tom Robinson has found several willing cohorts in the pack, not least of whom fellow flank Craig Bylin and astonishing workhorse Ethan Burger at loosehead.

Word has got out that, if you shut down Jordy Hop, you squeeze the lifeblood out of SACS.  That attention should ideally give half-backs Lucky Dlepu and David Hayes and long-striding wing Aaron Zeederberg more room in which to manoeuvre.

But the seeming absence of a Plan C – if the latter option above also fails – can be costly, a weakness St Andrew’s (Gtn) came agonisingly close to exploiting on Monday.


17 March : lost to Paarl Gym away 19-31;
25 March : beat Oudtshoorn 38-0 at Porterville;
1 April     : lost 33-36 to Waterkloof at North-South Festival (Tshwane);
4 April     : beat Menlopark 33-12 at North-South Festival (Tshwane).

One thing you cannot deny is that Stellies are honest. Aware that a penalty try against Paarl Gym flattered their score, they were understandably a little peeved when circumstances led to their put-things-right outing against Oudtshoorn being cut to 52 minutes, but they marched on with two fine results in Tshwane.

One of their key players will be scrumhalf/flyhalf Jacques van Biljon, on whom rests the burden of getting quick, clean ball out to dangerous wings Malan Roode and Angelo Davids. Up front the Jade Brigade are a close-knit group, with lock Janko Swanepoel catching the eye, particularly at the set pieces.

Last year they uncomplainingly took their medicine against the big out-of-town teams; this year they’ll be hoping to be writing the prescriptions for some big English schools, namely Bishops, Rondebosch and Grey High. 


13 April : lost to KES 17-42 at KES Easter Festival;
15 April : beat Marlow 32-26 at KES Easter Festival;
17 April : beat Noordheuwel 38-10 at St Stithian’s Easter Festival.

Like Rondebosch, Berg have been keen to limit their fixtures to twenty this season.  The unfortunate result was that a raw fifteen ran into a KES side with half a dozen matches behind them in its first outing.

Their character had already started to shine through by their second game and was burning fiercely by the end of Monday’s canter against Noordheuwel. 

That said, it will be vital that they use the calming influence of centres Chris Colborne and Ryan Biscombe at the back and the tireless grafting of no. 8 Cameron Bowes to establish a platform for rising stars like hookers Jason Alexander and James Pearse.

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