College rugby festival starts

2008-04-08 00:00

ONE of the longest-running school rugby festivals in the country and the most recent one both start this week. The Nashua Vryheid Festival, in its 21st year, starts today with 13 matches scheduled. The inaugural Tiger Turf Schonk Nicholson Festival begins tomorrow at Maritzburg College, with a total of 18 matches.

For local schoolboy rugby fans, the festival at College promises some exciting junior rugby. The U14 section has 16 sides with KwaZulu-Natal schools, Maritzburg College, St Charles, Westville, an Invitation Maritzburg XV and a KZN Development team playing against schools they normally do not play in a season.

Two matches that should be entertaining tomorrow are the KZN Development XV against Jeppe from Johannesburg and Grey College from Bloem- fontein against Zwartkop from Pretoria.

On Thursday, Westville against Grey College will possibly be the match of the festival in this age group and St Charles playing Rob Ferreira from White River will be tightly contested. On Saturday, Maritzburg College against Rob Ferreira should produce some running rugby, as will St Charles against Pretoria Boys’.

There are eight sides in the U15 section and tomorrow the hosts against Overkruin from Pretoria and Westville against Ermelo should be worth watching. On Thursday College against Ermelo and the KZN Development XV playing Overkruin could be the pick of the matches.

On the last day, Saturday, Westville against the KZN Development side could be the pick of the U15 games.

The U16 section has 12 teams of which the matches between DHS and the KZN Development XV tomorrow, St Charles against Overkruin and College against Ermelo on Thursday will be well worth watching. On Saturday the final match sees College playing Kempton Park from Midrand and this could be a fitting end to this age group rugby celebration.

There is a good mix of matches in Vryheid today, with schools from the top tier having their second and even third sides present. They will be playing some of the smaller schools present at the Festival. It will also be interesting to see how smaller schools from the different provinces fare against one another.

The two big matches this evening are between Maritzburg College and Ermelo and Michaelhouse against Harmony Sports Academy from the Free State. At the North West University festival, Ermelo had two reasonably easy matches, against Upington and Kempton Park, winning each comfortably. Their third match was against Framesby from Port Elizabeth, which they won by two points.

This will have given them plenty of confidence ahead of their matches at Vryheid.

College was at the prestigious St John’s festival in Johannesburg, where they lost all three games, against Daniel Pienaar from Uitenhage, St Johns and Paul Roos from Stellenbosch. They will be low in confidence and will see today’s game as a “must win” situation, to get their season back on track and restore some confidence before the next two games at the festival.

Michaelhouse, who won two games at the Grey HS Festival in Port Elizabeth, but lost to the hosts, play against the Harmony Sports Academy from Virginia in the Free State. This side, although small in stature, have pace and agility, which will make them difficult opponents.

The Free State side played against Hilton at the Voortrekker festival last month. The match was played in the rain and ended in a three all draw. The slippery conditions prevented Harmony from playing their running game à la Sevens rugby. If conditions in Vryheid suit them this evening, they will give Michaelhouse a run for their money.

The fixtures for Thursday and Saturday will be determined the evening before each day on a strength vs strength basis. The rugby on Saturday will thus be very keenly contested and for those in northern KZN well worth a visit.

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