Easter weekend busy with festivals

2011-04-12 00:00

NOW that the Easter holidays are over, schools look forward to a busy sports term of rugby and hockey. Unusually, the Easter weekend this year falls out of the government school holidays and it is over this weekend that most of the school rugby festivals take place.

The Grey HS Festival in Port Elizabeth held a week ago, had DHS, Kearsney, Maritzburg College, Hilton, Michaelhouse and Westville participating. At the same time, the Skonk Nicholson Festival for age-group teams was held at Maritzburg College, with the Vryheid Festival also on the go.

In other parts of the country, festivals were held at Stellenbosch, Oakdale in George, the Pukke Festival in Potchefstroom, the Tony Stoop Festival at Hoërskool President and the Wynberg Festival both in Cape Town, the Mauritz Hansen Festival at Hans Strydom in Naboomspruit and the Waterkloof Festival in Pretoria.

The first festival for top-level schools was held at St Stithians 28 years ago. This festival was followed by St Johns, in their 16th year, and King Edward VII School (Kes), their 10th. These festivals in Johannesburg have traditionally been held over the Easter weekend. The Kearsney Festival, now in its fourth year and sponsored by Blythedale Holiday Resorts, will also be held at Easter.

Of the top 10 KZN schools, six were represented at the Grey HS Festival, and Glenwood went to the Pukke Festival in Potchefstroom. The latter lost their first two matches, 14-15 against Hoërskool Outeniqua, 6-16 against Monument, and then won their last match 22-9 against Hoërskool Framesby from Port Elizabeth.

With the emphasis placed on winning and the ranking list that is published by FNB, the Easter festivals hold more sway now. Schools want to be well prepared at the festivals and this is the prime reason the school rugby season now starts two weeks before the Easter holidays. This helps prepare the sides for the festivals.

There is an advantage for the schools that hold their festival before the Easter weekend as they can often attract some of the top teams. Over the Easter weekend, the teams at the five major festivals are diluted to some extent and there is competition to attract at least a few of the top sides in the country. The better the teams, the more spectators will be attracted, which ultimately pleases the sponsors and helps ensure more money for the future years.

For rugby lovers in KZN, Kearsney this year hosts three of the top 10 teams from last year, including the teams that were one and two in the final rankings, Grey College and Paarl Gym. The other top side is Monument.

Some coaches prefer to play in just one festival and others take the opportunity to play in two. Local schools Kearsney and Glenwood, both at the Kearsney Festival, have already played at Grey HS and Pukke, respectively. Other schools that were at the Grey Festival, DHS and Westville, will be playing at the Kes Festival.

Schools that have not yet played in a festival, such as Northwood, who will be at the St Stithians Festival, and St Charles, who play at the lesser Krugersdorp Festival, complete the top 10 in KZN who will have all had at least three games during the recess.

All five of the major festivals have a side from outside South Africa’s borders represented. At Kes they have an Italian team, Banoa Montepaschi,playing. At St Stithians, Windhoek HS from Namibia are playing. St John’s Festival has two teams, St Johns from Harare and Millfield from England, the top English schoolboy team in 2010. At the Kearsney Festival, the New Zealand side, Christ’s College, will be represented.

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