Day Two @ The St John’s Festival



08h45: Nelspruit 43-0 Eye of the Tiger


The first match of the day will see a hurting Nelspruit facing an Eye of the Tiger team who showed against Boishaai that they will not stop trying no matter how big the score is. Against Boishaai the Eye Of The Tiger team was very gutsy and tried to run with every ball they could lay their hands on. They tried to avoid set pieces by throwing the ball around with accuracy and getting away some enterprising offloads. They ran from anywhere and everywhere at pace, attacking the space, and they were very brave in defence, not shying away from the collision situations against a much bigger side. Nelspruit, on the other hand, was on the back foot from the start against Paul roos but never stopped fighting to get back into the match. Nelspruit struggled on the floor where they were penalised regularly but always seemed willing to attack the advantage line when they had the ball. I was the first one who criticised the organiser to give Eye of the tiger such difficult opponents but must admit I think they will give Nelspruit a stern test on Saturday but with Nelspruit still expected to win.



Match Report

Nelspruit ran out as favourites in the first match of the day at the St. John's College Easter Rugby Festival, against the exciting team of Eye Of The Tiger. Nelspruit, hurting from their thrashing in the rain on the evening of the first day's action by a very polished Paul Roos outfit, took the field with a view of changing their fortunes around in their second match, ahead of their big game on Monday against the brown jerseys if Helpmekaar on Monday For them a win in this match against EOTT was not negotiable. Eye Of The Tiger clearly had the same idea, having gained considerable confidence in the way they competed against the mighty Paarl Boishaai, if not the result (which did not tell the full story). EOTT took the field with their more experienced team, which included a compliment of 8 U19 boys in their squad, whilst Nelspruit, in contrast, boasts a youthful team which includes no less than 9 U17 players at the festival. Nelspruit knew their advantage would lie in their forwards, able to field a much bigger pack than their opposition. Nelspruit outweighs EOTT by only 4 kg per forward, but their tall timber is a staggering 11cm taller on average, giving Nelspruit a clear advantage in the lineouts. EOTT, on the other hand, ran out with the clear intention to take off and fly. With arguably one of the most enterprising backlines at the festival, they looked to run the ball far and wide from the starting whistle. Nelspruit came out firing, working their way to the EOTT try line by spreading the ball wide and contesting the ball on the ground. Their scrum was a clear advantage as expected, and they took charge of the scrums winning the first 3 with ease before they forced 2 penalties resulting in a penalty try which were converted by #9 Riehandre v d Merwe to open the scoreboard at 7-0 to Nelspruit. EOTT hit back almost immediately through #11 Kwanele Mhlongo but the NLS #15 Paul Rheeder ran an exceptional cover defence to prevent the try. Two minutes later it was Mhlongo down the left-hand touchline again but he dived like an olympian to score his try on the 5m two failed but very exciting attempts. Nelspruit put the screws on again and scored a well worked converted try from a driving maul. A few minutes later Nelspruit ran a high-speed try in on the left-hand touchline to give fullback Rheeder a good ball to finish with. The try was not converted and the scoreboard read 19-0. Loosehead prop Wium Barnard crashed over the line for a converted try to extend Nelspruit's lead even further to 26-0. After playing a player in the air the referee did not hesitate to show the yellow card to EOOT #2 Inga Faku. Nelspruit kept the pressure on and EEOT lost another player in #21 Siyavuya to a yellow card and were left with only 13 players. Nelspruit took the opportunity and sent #11 Tiaan Kotzee over for a try in the left-hand corner to make the halftime score 31-0. The 2nd half started with a bang and EOTT #9 almost went over for a try line the corner, but as soon as Nelspruit got their hands on the ball they started working their way back to the EOTT try line, but it took them all of 10 minutes to crack the defence for #14 Andy Fourie to score a try. #10 Stephan van der Bank could not convert the try. Soon after that Nelspruit, with 13 penalties for them already, sent scrumhalf Riehandre v d Merwe over for his second try. #10 Van der Bank converted and the scoreline read 43-0. EOTT had at least three good opportunities to break away in the 2nd half but failed to distribute the ball in those situations. They were a lot more competitive as the Nelspruit forwards started tiring, forcing 15 penalties in the second half alone. For Nelspruit Kotzee, Rheeder and Barnard impressed and for Eye Of The Tiger, Mhlongo was very entertaining. Nelspruit won the match 43-0.

Nelspruit 43 (29) - Tries: Riehandre van der Merwe (2), Henco van der Merwe, Paul Rheeder, Wium Barnard, Tiaan Kotzee. Penalty Try Conversions: Stephan van der Bank (3).

Eye of the Tiger 0.


10h00: St John’s Harare 0-36 Parktown


St. John's Harare from Zimbabwe always provides a bit of a surprise package as little is known of them in the season prior to the festival as they do not regularly compete against other South African schools but unfortunately come up against a difficult Helpies team who does not know the word mercy. Parktown on the other hand quickly established an early lead of 19-7 against Nort South Wales, who played in the first match of the season but found the handling of the big boys from Australia taking the toll and eventually won 26-19.  St John's will not be tested as hard against Parktown but unfortunately, can not see them win.



Match Report

St. John's College from Harare took the field in the hope of getting their hands on the ball in their 2nd day match up with Parktown from Johannesburg, so that they too can show the growing crowd that there are at least some teams north of our border that have an appreciation for how the game of rugby should be played. They realised that their only way forward would be to put the misery which was the game against Helpmekaar behind them and use their good lineout play as a base to work from. Parktown Boys High School, brimming with confidence after their win against the huge team of NSW, met their next international foe at full speed when #11 Peter Kasonga went over, but the try was not allowed. Parktown had 2 penalties awarded to them right in front of the SJH posts but opted to take the quick tap only to be turned over through great defence. Two bursts over the line saw SJH holding up the attacker through sheer bravery, but the penalties were stacking up against them and with 7 against SJH in the fist half it was only a matter of time until Parktown's #15 Ronald Tselane dived over to score the first try on the stroke of half-time with Parktown leading 5-0. But it was to be a different Parktown team that commenced the second half. Early in the half  #13, Wonga Matubatuba scored Parktown's second try which was converted by flyhalf Matyas Hop to bring the scores to 12-0 before #7 Eshile Mbilini sped down the right-hand touchline on a great carry to score another try for Parktown. #14 Cole Rock was next to get on the score sheet after excellent lineout work by the 2.01m #4 Simao Dioniso. Dioniso is tall indeed, and his lineout work is very good, but it is his general play that inspires. He carries well and defends equally well. Hooker Darnell Osuagwu also impressed, not only in the lineouts but also his good defensive work rate. Peter Kasonga tore the mud apart as he flew down the centre of the field to score his second try which Hopp converted to bring the scores to 29-0 in favour of Parktown. Kicking out of hand was generally of a poor standard by both teams struggling to get a 50% success rate. St. John's Harare impressed on the floor, picking up 3 turnovers to none, but it was in the lineouts where Parktown was completely dominant, taking SJH's ball at will. Next up on the scoresheet was #22 Siyabonga Galetuke, which #10 Hopp converted to make the final score Parktown 36 St. John's Harare 0 in a very entertaining game of schoolboy rugby.

Parktown Boys' High 36 (5) - Tries: Ronald Tselane, Wonga Matubatuba, Eshili Mbilini, Cole Rock, Peter Kasonga, Siyabonga Galetuke. Conversions: Matyas Hopp (3). 

St John's College (Harare) 0


11h15: Affies 28-24 Florida


Affies, fielding the biggest squad at the St. John's Easter Rugby Festival, took on the young team of Hilton in a mid-afternoon rainy match on the Burger Field. Everyone expected Affies to dominate the match in every respect but their game plan or lack thereof stunned all. They gave the ball away with silly kicks and seemed to be more interested in getting the game over than to display the brilliance we came to expect from this side. Florida started out well using their big forwards to gain the upper hand, and big they were. Florida had 10 cm and 5 kg on average over the pack of St. Johns. The team from Florida put some initial pressure on their opponents, but that was short lived with their massive forwards seemingly running out of petrol. Although Affies should win this one with ease I for one are hopeful that the real Affies will come and play. Another difficult day for Florida but expect them to be direct and in the face of the Affies boys.




Match Report

Affies started the game as clear favourites over Florida. Florida, fielding 12 U17 players, could compete on equal footing in terms of size. Florida drew first blood with a penalty kick by #15 Tino Swanepoel to open the score 3-0. Charles Goedhals, flyhalf par excellance of Affies, levelled the scores through a penalty kick. Then Florida #13 Timothy Allies sliced open the defence to score under the sticks and #15 Swanepoel converted to make the score 10-3 to  Florida. Affies would have none of that and sent their own #13 to correct matters when Zach Briel fell over to score a try. Goedhals could not convert, and Florida was still ahead 10-8. Florida was making themselves guilty of repeated offences when the referee sent off hooker Damian Calitz with a yellow card. Affies immediately made it count as centre Zach Briel scored his second try of the match to make the score 13-10 to Affies at the halftime break. As the second half started Affies opened up play and Briel continued his impressive play. Florida had the crowd at the edge of their seats when #15 Tino Swanepoel tore up the turf, but Affies managed to stop him short and Affies hit back with a few solid backline salvos to finally put over winger Wasserman, the star of the Helpies clash, in the corner for his try. The conversion was missed and the scoreline read 18-10 to Affies. This match could only be described as pulsating, with both teams looking for space at speed. Then came the moment Affies lost their first lineout on their own ball of the season, whilst on the attack in the Florida red zone. This gave Florida the opportunity to get out of trouble and they worked their way up the field. The next minute #6 Bosman Brink crashed over the line for Florida and #20 HG De Kok converted to make the score a chilling 18-17 to Affies. A few minutes later Maxwill van Louw, the winger of Florida, intercepted a flying Affies ball and scored a brilliant try to set the crowd alight. HG de Kok converted the try to give Florida a 24-18 lead with only 7 minutes of play remaining. Florida disrupted Affies to the point of Affies losing 4 of their lineout balls and conceding no less than 7 turnovers to the men from the West Rand. But the penalties kept coming for Affies, 10 in total, and they surprised on two occasions by not taking their points in kickable positions, especially after Florida seemed more than willing to contest the Affies lineout. Then Affies hit back again and star #8 Philip Potgieter went over in the corner to pull the scores to 24-23 with just more than a minute remaining in the match. The tension was incredible when Affies winger Heinrich Bisshoff went over in the corner to score the winning try with time up on the clock. Affies narrowly winning this thriller by 28-24. What an incredible match of schoolboy rugby. Be sure to catch this match on YouTube through School Sports Live if you can, it was a stunner.

Affies 28 (13) - Tries: Zach Briel (2), Philip Potgieter, Heinrich Bisschoff, Ruan Wasserman. Penalty: Charles Goedhals.

Florida 24 (10) - Tries: Timothy Allies, Bosman Brink, Maxwill van Louw. Conversions: HG de Kock (2), Tino Swanepoel. Penalty: Swanepoel.


13h30: St John’s College 19-28 Hilton


Hilton's defence against Affies can only be described as monumental on their own line. Hilton has no less than 10 U17 players in their squad but today they will come up against a very determined St John's College. St. Johns used their more mobile pack against a game Florida to move the ball around the field and as the game progressed, they started gaining the upper hand in all facets of play, with some excellent scrummaging from a relatively small forward pack. St. John's won their 5th match in a row and do definitely a chance to make it six. Although Hilton may be the clever pick my money is with the hosts. Just love the way those fifteen mongrels play the game.



Match Report

St. John's College have been the host to another excellent schoolboy rugby festival and hosted the young team of Hilton from the KZN Midlands today in a massive midday clash. Both teams showed on Thursday that they will be a force to be reckoned with this year, each getting the crowd on their feet regularly, so this match is generating an enormous amount of interest. With the schoolboys inviting their teams onto the field with a thunderous roar the match was brought underway by Nicholas Winskill, flyhalf of Hilton. Within the first 5 minutes Hilton conceded two penalties but in turn prevented points against them through good defensive lineout work close to their line. #8 Julian Zille showed his physical dominance early on with a massive tackle, whilst #13 Tshepo Chipu took every opportunity to run at Hilton. But is was the boys in white from Hilton that drew first blood as the busy #9 Graham Curtis went over for the first try. Fullback Gareth Schreuder converted the try to make it 7-0 to Hilton. St. John's went on the attack again but Hilton turned the ball over in their red zone and speedster #14 Fadzai Mushonga went the length of the field to score in the right-hand corner which Schreuder converted to bring the score to 14-0 for Hilton after 17 minutes of play. A minute later and #4 George Putter threw a great pass to Curtis and after some sublime stepping, the scrumhalf scored his second try of the match. Schreuder converted to make the score 21-0. Hilton was firmly in charge of the lineouts and the ruck situations until a forward was yellow carded. St. John's went on the attack immediately with only the touchline beating their #6 Philip Mparutsa as he headed for the try line. SJC kept the pressure on until #8 Zille scored a try. With captain #10 Kieran Houlston converting the try, the teams went into the half-time break with Hilton leading by 21-7 but still with a front ranker in the bin. Hilton went on to the offensive through #13 Chipo Mupeso who rounded Chipu. In the scramble that followed Daniel da Costa was on the receiving end of a spear tackle by SJC #11 Garrick Steed. Steed was given a yellow card and Hilton went into action and fullback Gareth Schreuder scored a good try which he converted himself to bring the scoreboard to 28-7 for Hilton. After a period of hard attacking SJC's Musachi Nkanza scored a stunning try and Hilton were leading 28-12.  Ronan Grobler sadly left the field on a stretcher.  SJC were on the attack again and forcing the penalties until Zille scored his 2nd try after the forwards mauled it over the line. Kieran Houlston converted. Whilst Hilton dominated the lineout play, they also achieved the most turnovers (3) and were awarded no less than 14 penalties during the match and were deserving winners. The game ended with Hilton winning by 28-19, and handling the vibrant team of St. John's College their first loss of the season.

Hilton College 28 (21) - Tries: Graham Curtis (2), Fadzai Mushonga, Gareth Schreuder. Conversions: Schreuder (4).

St John's College 19 (7) - Tries: Julian Zille (2), Musachi Nkanza. Conversion: Kieran Houlston (2).


14h45: Combined High School (Australia) 0-67 Paarl Boys’


As if Boishaai did not have their fair share of overseas teams they face a big but unfit outfit from Australia. The Aussies will only play in their second match of the season but will test the boys from the Western Cape with some big boys up front. In their first game on local soil, Boishaai was never tested physically and all eyes will be on their big men. Expect the game to be a tight affair initially but as the Aussies tire expect them to be spectators to the expected brilliance from Boishaai.



Match Report

Paarl Boys Highschool faced NSW Combined High Schools in the second last match at the St. John's Easter Rugby Festival on Saturday. As expected, Boishaai dominated proceedings from the first kickoff and enjoyed more than 70% of the possession. During the first half, tries were scored by Thakir Abrahams, Henry Chamberlain (2), Francke Horn and a very dangerous looking Abner van Reenen who scored a hat trick in a row. The list of try scorers provides a clear indication of the open running game of rugby Boishaai employed. The set phases were dominated by Boishaai, taking one heel against the head in the scrums and winning two balls from NSW lineouts whilst only losing one ball themselves. Boishaai beat NSW on the ground whilst winning 4 penalties to the 5 of NSW so NSW was a bit better off in that department. The half time score was 32-0 to Boishaai. In the second half, Boishaai continued to dominate the match, taking a number of NSW's lineout balls although Boishaai were penalised quite a lot. To their credit NSW never stopped fighting for possession of the ball. Boishaai scored a number of tries including a few nice tries by the men up front who put in a day's work. Tries were scored by #6 Vian Fourie, #9 Eric Myburgh, #18 Adrian Alberts and #7 Cornell Kotze. Two further tries by the forwards could not be identified amongst the mud covered Boishaai pack. #10 Chamberlain converted 5 of the tries. The final score was 67-0.


16h00: Paul Roos 25-22 Helpmekaar


And then for the big one, the "Witkappies" vs Paul Roos. Paul Roos Gimnasium from Stellenbosch came to Johannesburg with the intention of playing a high level of rugby when they took the field against Nelspruit playing the conditions very well, played clinical percentage rugby to gain the upper hand early on in the match. They will face a team from Helpmekaar who after their first defeat against Affies is showing more and more of the brilliance expected from them. Helpies do not play a very structured game and will rather run at every opportunity to punish you for the slightest tactical error. My money will be on Helpies but it will be their first opponents that prefer a structured game plan and who does not get flustered if mistakes are made by them.




Match Report

This was the big one on day two at the St John's festival. And boy they did not surprise. Paul Roos and Helpmekaar showed from the word go that they mean business as the game set off at a fast pace. In the early stages, the boys from Helpies had the upper hand and centre Jeremy Randall scores in the first minute of the match after some excellent handling between several players. With the conversion successful Helpmekaar was leading 7-0 even before you could say (*^)*^^%. Minutes later Helpmekaar is still showing that not only their backs but also their forwards can run and handle the ball and after great interchanging play by the backs and forwards Frederick van Deventer scored under the uprights. Unfortunately, this brilliant try could not be converted by Tristan Oosthuizen. Paul Roos showed that they will not play second fiddle immediately started to attack the Helpies goal line but the defence of Helpmekaar stood firm. At this stage, Paul Roos refused several opportunities to go for goal and preferred to attack the line after penalties. Paul Roos's fullback eventually decided to kick at goal and their no 15 Colia Louis is successful with two penalties 12-6 to Helpies. Tommy van Tonder, the wing of Helpies received a yellow card in the 20th minute of the game for a late 'grass-cutter tackle' that resulted in the second converted penalty of Paul Roos. At this stage, Paul Roos is coming back into the game keeping the ball away from the Helpies' runners. After a period where Helpmekaar had to defend they broke away and were only stopped a few yards from the Paul Roos try line. Paul Roos is penalised after tackling a Helpies boy without the ball. Yellow card?? Mark Snyman takes a quick tap and scored a brilliant individual try that is once again not converted. Helpies 17-6 goes into half time as the deserving leaders. Helpmekaar started the second half in the same manner than they did in the first half and is rewarded when Mark Snyman's individual brilliance sees him score a great try after a 40 m run. Helpies is seemingly on the way to a convincing victory leading 22-6. JJ Kotze scores in the corner to start the Paul Roos spectacular comeback. Paul Roos is staying calm setting up the one phase after the other while the changes in the Helpies side is not helping them, costing them continuity. Helpies still leads 22-11. At this stage, Helpies is by no means not in the game but one could see Paul Roos taking control. Maybe the first half took too much out of their players and the substitutes in the front row are not working and it seems the only common denominator in every scrum is the hooker, Dameon Venter, but the Helpies props change around continuously so that virtually no two scrums are faced by the same front row and this was mind boggling to see against the very well drilled scrum of Paul Roos. Paul Roos is getting stronger and spoiling all Helpmekaar's ball from the scrums. Breyten Maritz scores after a forward drive for Paul Roos and the conversion was successful by Colia Louis, 22-18 for Helpies. Four minutes to go and Paul Roos scores after some poor defending from Helpmekaar in the backline. Remy Engelbrecht finishing off a brilliant effort started in their own half. Paul Roos taking the lead for the first time in the match and just in time to win this thriller 25-22. To name names in a match like this just feels wrong bu the centre of Helpies Francois Janse van Vuuren and loosie of Paul Roos Phillip van Dyk really was enormous for their teams.


Paul Roos 25 (6) - Tries: JJ Kotze, Breyten Maritz, Remy Engelbrecht.  Conversions: Colia Louis(2) Penalties: Colia Louis (2)

Helpmekaar 22 (17) - Tries: Jeremy Randell, Frederick van de Venter, Mark Snyman (2) Conversion: Tristan Oosthuizen