Maritzburg U20s begin afresh as KZN rugby season kicks off at Woodburn

2010-02-26 00:00

THE much anticipated KZN club rugby season kicks off tomorrow with an intriguing triple-header at Woodburn Stadium.

It is intriguing historically because the day will include all three teams of the newly constituted Maritzburg U20 rugby “club” all playing at the same venue, one after another on the same pitch.

It is intriguing because, for the first time in 115 years’ rugby history in the KZN capital, purely “Maritzburg” teams will run onto the field.

With the senior KZN club season starting in a while, the focus is uniquely on U20 rugby for the next month or so, thrusting school leavers into the spotlight for once.

The Maritzburg U20 season begins against Hillcrest and, ominously, against the tough-as-nails Harlequins from the Bluff in Durban.

“Preparations for the season have gone well and management is quite positive,” said Maritzburg U20A head coach Steve Botha, who is also ma­nager/coach of the Midlands Rugby Academy, alongside the equally experienced Ralph Cawood.

Both have years of KZN schools, club and provincial rugby behind them as both player and coach, and there is nothing they don’t know about the hot competition in one of the best club provincial structures in the country.

Maritzburg U20C kick off at 12.30 pm against Hillcrest, Maritzburg U20B meet Harlequins counterparts at 2 pm, and the A teams run out of the stadium tunnel for a 3.30 pm first whistle.

“There will be entertainment, refreshments and eats available, and Maritzburg U20 rugby appeals to the public to put on the blue and white colours and come and support all three of our city’s brand-new U20 teams, on Saturday at Woodburn Stadium,” Botha said.

“Harlequins have been boosted by a large number of Sharks Academy players from the hard world of upcountry rugby, who have free accommodation among other perks at Quins,” Botha said. “They had a preseason friendly against top KZN U20 team College Rovers last week, and the A team only went down two tries to nothing, while Quins B beat Ro­vers B by one try.”

Botha said, according to Rovers coaches, Quins were extremely physical.

One can’t help surmising that, true to Harlequins tradition, their U20s took the game to Rovers in an aggressive manner.

“A number of quality players have come into the Midlands academy, and with a large number of boys who return from last year, it is a good mixture of new energy and experience at this level,” Botha said.

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