Young guns of rugby show their skills

2013-05-17 00:00

THE future of South African rugby was on display at Pietermaritzburg’s Woodburn Stadium yesterday.

The Spar KwaZulu-Natal Primary Schools’ Rugby Tournament features six district teams. They are the hosts, Midlands, Northern KZN, South Coast, Durban Coastal, Pinetown and Districts, and Zululand.

Having started in 1995, the competition is is hosted anually by Midlands Primary Schools Rugby.

The boys had a chance to walk in the footsteps of international rugby stars such as All Black Greg Rawlinson, England centre Brad Barrett, prop Matt Stevens and Springboks Pat Lambie and Alistair Hargreaves, who have all played in the tournament during its 18 years.

The tournament also serves as trials to select the KZN team to take part at the U13 Craven Week.

Yesterday, the first day of the three-day-long tournament, saw passionate parents spurring on their sides.

Michelle Schutte of Howick was there to support her boy, Darquinn (13), who is the inside centre of the Midlands “B” team.

“We’re here to watch our baby Sharks,” Schutte told The Witness.

She said her son, who also swims and plays representative hockey for Umgungundlovu, had hopes of going to Durban’s Glenwood High School and becoming a professional rugby player.

“He’s been playing seriously for about three years. But you know, with boys, they start playing while they’re very small, then they dream, eat and sleep rugby,” she said in between shouting encouragement to her son’s team.

Quinton Pitout, scrumhalf for the Gert Maritz Primary School U10 team, wasn’t there to play. He was there to watch his big brother, Midlands’ U13B prop, Jacque, and hoped that one day he too would get his chance.

“I want to play here one day too,” he said, adding that Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie was his hero.

His father, Charl, said Quinton had been named as player of the year at his school for two consecutive years, and he was confident he would make it number three at the end of this year.

He was also confident that his two boys, who are separated by two years, could play first-team rugby together in Jacque’s matric year.

Some of the boys at the tournament are not just talented rugby players; they are also gifted all-rounders.

Nonhle Gumede was confident that her son, Gcina, who plays wing for Pinetown and Districts, would one day play for the Springboks or Bafana Bafana.

When not scoring tries on the wing, she said, her speedy son also turned out for Highway United football Club’s U13 side and excelled at athletics.

“He attends Hillcrest Senior Primary School, but he’s already been accepted to attend Westville Boys next year,” she said, and gave a loud cheer as her boy dived over for a try in the corner in their game against South Coast.

Duane du Plessis, the father of Pinetown hooker Andrew Lotz, said he was hoping his son would make it through. Asked by The Witness where he hoped to see his son end up one day, he replied: “I’d be really chuffed if he ended up playing provincial rugby. It would be even better if he achieved higher honours.”

Also present was ex-international referee Marius Jonker.

Jonker, a Pelham Primary School old boy, was asked by his former principal and coach, Louis Botha, who is also the chairperson of the Midlands Schools’ Rugby Association, to become involved.

The referee, who is due to blow the whistle when the Cheetahs take on the Reds in Bloemfontein this weekend, took charge of the games without any boots.

“I still play a lot of touch rugby back home, and the boys appreciate it,” he said.

The game he was in charge of was between the hosts Midlands and Northern KZN.

He challenged the other refs to lose their boots and feel the grass on their toes.

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