Easter holidays offer feast of schoolboy rugby festivals

2013-03-15 00:00

THE local rugby-loving public is in for a schoolboy rugby bonanza during the forthcoming schools’ Easter holidays.

There are two rugby festivals at Maritzburg College, one 60 kilometres down the road at Kearsney and a Bizsports Festival being held at Glenwood, but not including the latter school.

The Kearsney Festival is in its sixth year and has again invited 11 schools, with hosts Kearsney. Nine of the 12 schools participating, which includes hosts Kearsney, were in the Rugby 365 top 25 at the end of the season last year and this has now developed into the premier Easter Festival in the country.

The ranked schools are Paarl Gym (3), Grey College (4), Outeniqua (5), Paul Roos (8), Boland Landbou (13), EG Jansen (18), Kearsney (19), Framesby (20) and Glenwood (22). The three other schools are Westville, Nico Malan and Selborne.

The festival at College sees 10 schools participating, five of which, including hosts College, were in the top 25 in 2012. This is a one-off festival being held as one of the 30 major events in the year’s calendar to celebrate the school’s 150th anniversary.

The five ranked schools are Affies (2), Noordkaap (7), Dale (9), Grey HS (17) and hosts College (24). The other schools are Monument — normally in the top rankings — Queens, Rondebosch, Jeppe and DHS.

The rankings from 2012 probably mean little, as it is the teams this year that are going to be important going into the season. The three Johannesburg festivals, St Stithians being the first 26 years ago, have all now been watered down. At St Stithians, Wynberg (18) is the only top-ranked team playing, where Hilton is the only representative from KZN.

The St John’s festival has three schools that were ranked last year: Paarl BHS, the top rugby-playing school in 2012; Waterkloof (6); and Daniel Pienaar (11). There are no KZN teams at this festival.

The third festival, in Johannesburg, is at King Edward. The host school was ranked 12 last year and the two other ranked schools are Centurion (10) and Garsfontein (21), the latter a recent powerhouse due to some aggressive marketing.

The Bizsports Festival previously hosted by Waterkloof is mainly for schools on the fringes of the top schools. Kempton Park (23), who last year had their best rugby season and was ranked 23, is the top side at the festival. George Campbell is the only KZN school playing, the others being HTS Middelburg and Tygerberg —both often having good sides — Benoni, Ben Vorster, Jim Fouche, Merensky, Middelburg HS, Stellenberg and Transvalia.

The annual Skonk Festival hosted by Maritzburg College will follow the open festival at College from April 4 to 6 and includes teams at U14 and U16 levels.

The Kearsney Festival and Maritzburg College 150th Anniversary Festival do overlap, but the Kearsney Festival begins on March 28, while College begins their festival on March 30. Kearsney ends on April 1 and College on April 3. The school rugby-loving public can spend Thursday at Kearsney and Wednesday at College, but will have to decide which games they would prefer to watch on the Saturday and Monday.

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