If you’re an avid follower of rugby on the Junior level, a name you might have heard quite a few times during the 2010 season would have been Standerton Hoërskool, a school that produced numerous provincial school players in 2010, as well as see old pupils making the step up to first class rugby.
Standerton is a large commercial and agricultural town situated on the banks of the Vaal River in Mpumalanga. The town, established in 1876, specialises in cattle, maize and poultry farming with Eskom and the coal mines employing the majority of the town’s residents not involved in farming.
Standerton Hoërskool (SHS) is a medium-sized school where the number of pupils average around 850 each year with around 380 being boys. SHS also celebrates its 90th birthday this year and is seen as a major cornerstone in the history of the town and community.
SHS Rugby is no stranger when it comes to producing quality rugby players and is one of the few SA schools who can pride themselves in producing a Springbok. But it wasn’t just any Springbok, it was a 1995 Rugby World Cup Hero.
Pieter Hendriks matriculated from Standerton Hoërskool in 1988 where he was also Head Boy. That same year Hendriks – a big, fast and powerful runner – smashed through opposition defenders to rack up try after try. Even with talented players from smaller schools and towns usually going unnoticed it was impossible to ignore this try-scoring machine. This was confirmed when Hendriks got called up to the SA Schools team that same year.
After school Hendriks went on to play rugby for Rand Afrikaanse Universiteit(RAU) which is now known as the University of Johannesburg(UJ). It was four years later, in 1992, that this try-scoring machine was spotted by the Transvaal scouts and given the opportunity to represent them on the wing. He did more than just represent Tranvaal as he grabbed the opportunity and ball with both hands and, in his debut season, smashed the Transvaal record for most tries in a Currie Cup season by crossing the whitewash 12 times during the 1992 Currie Cup. Transvaal got pipped 14-13 in the final that year by Natal but Hendriks already impressed everybody, including the Springbok coaches, and made his Springbok debut in front of his home crowd on 15 August 1992 against New Zealand.
Fired up by a dream debut season and such a narrow defeat in the 1992 final, Hendriks helped Transvaal to successive Currie Cup titles in 1993 and 1994 against Natal and the Free State, racking up try after try with his direct and powerful approach. Hendriks was also instrumental during the 1993 Super 10 as Transvaal became the first South African team to lift a Super Rugby trophy when the beat Auckland 20-17 in the final. Hendriks also featured in the 1995 Super 10 Final but had to settle for second place when Queensland beat them 30-16 in Johannesburg.
It was during the 1995 Rugby World Cup that Hendriks cemented his place in the heart of every Springbok supporter by scoring probably the try of the tournament and handing the Boks the advantage, confidence and momentum to claim World Cup glory on home turf.
It was the opening match of the World Cup and the Boks were up against defending champions Australia at Newlands in Cape Town. With formidable players like David Campese, Michael Lynach, John Eales and George Gregan, Australia were clear favourites to secure victory. It was no real surprise when the Boks had their backs against the wall after Michael Lynach put the Wallabies 13-9 ahead by scoring and converting the first try of the RWC ’95. But only four minutes later Hendriks gathered a long skip-pass from Japie Mulder with only David Campese between himself and the try-line. With a quick shift towards the touchline Hendriks stepped on the gas and left David Campese for dead and trying to figure out what just happened. With a pumping fist and the look of determination on his face Hendriks catapulted the Boks into the lead and ultimately to a 27-18 victory as Joel Stransky scored in every possible manner with a try, conversion, penalty and drop-kick. It was this confidence boost that led the Boks to World Cup Glory on home turf.
Hendriks still holds the Transvaal/Lions record for most Currie Cup tries in a career with a massive total of 38 tries.
Another Springbok that first started out at Standerton was Springbok legend and SA “Player of the 20th Century” Frik du Preez. Unfortunately Du Preez never finished his school career at Standerton and matriculated in Parys in the Free State which meant that Parys got the credit for producing the legend that is Frik du Preez.
Over the past few years, including 2010, Standerton turned out numerous provincial players with the likes of Robert Kruger(Lions), WD Botha(Leopards), Howard Mnisi(Sharks u/21) and Jaco Kriel(Lions u/21, Captain) coming to mind. Other players who made impressions during 2010 include: Marinus van der Merwe(Pumas Craven Week, SA Schools), Clinton Swart, Sanele Dlamini(Pumas Craven Week), Malan van der Merwe and Sibi Masina(Leopards)
But the player that made the biggest leap and put SHS back on the map during 2010 was young pivot Gary van Aswegen who made the move to Stellenbosch University and Western Province after finishing matric at SHS in 2008.
Rated very highly by Stormers coach Alistair Coetzee, Van Aswegen’s name keeps popping up along with other top young pivots like Patrick Lambie and Elton Jantjies and he has even been described as the perfect number 10.
Van Aswegen quickly got noticed and soon found himself in the Western Province age group squads where he was instrumental in 2010, helping Western Province lift the u21 Currie Cup Trophy by racking up a big total of 207 points during the season. Van Aswegen immediately got drafted into the Stormers’ Super Rugby training squad.
Van Aswegen is a physical player that prefers the direct approach but also has a good step, deceptive acceleration, accurate boot and solid tackle in his arsenal. With Peter Grant still stuck in Japan, these attributes earned Van Aswegen the nod ahead of former Baby Bok Lionel Cronje in numerous of the Stormers’ Super Rugby warm up matches. Even with Grant back from Japan in time for the start of the Super Rugby season on 26 February against the Lions, Van Aswegen impressed coach Alistair Coetzee so much that he was picked ahead of the Springbok flyhalf for this important clash at Newlands.
Van Aswegen is most certainly a star for the future and another proud product of SHS.
The 2011 SHS season kicks off at home against Hoërskool Montana from Pretoria on 5 March before playing Merensky(Tzaneen) away and Hoërskool Lichtenburg at home the following two weekends in the NWU Pukke league. Finals are contested on 16 April in Potchefstroom.
Their Mpumalanga League for Large Schools starts on 14 May and will see SHS play Ermelo, Ligbron(Ermelo) and Hoogenhout(Bethal) at home while travelling for away games against Hertzog(Witbank) and Secunda. If SHS succeed in making the finals they will contest it on 23 July.
Rugby15 spoke to Director of Sport at SHS, Mnr Koos Fick, and we asked him what SHS’ goals and hopes were for the season ahead:
“Our goal is one for SHS Rugby in general and not only for the first XV. We want to get most of our teams into the finals this year”
Any players to keep an eye out for in 2011?
“We’ve got a good team and it is difficult to name specific players but our game will be based around game breakers like hooker Chris Boshoff and centre Clinton Swart”
Who are the people in charge of moulding the 1st XV players for 2011:
“We have very experienced coaches in Riaan Viviers and Tielman Meyer”
Rugby15 will be keeping a close eye on Standerton during 2011 and will be sure to report back on their performance during the season, as well as report on any of their young stars picked for major squads.
[Article by James Loretz for www.rugby15.co.za] [firstname.lastname@example.org]