The tenth annual Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival kicks off on Thursday. Twelve prominent South African rugby schools will play over three days and, as in the past nine years, bumper crowds of largely school-rugby enthusiasts will enjoy the six matches each day.
There are two teams from KZN, hosts Kearsney College and Glenwood, being the top two teams in the province last season. They will both be keen to come away with good results against the three schools they play. Debutants this year are Drostdy HTS from Worcester in the Western Cape and Pretoria Boys High. Other schools represented are Dr EG Jansen from Boksburg, HTS Middelburg, Selborne from East London, Dale College from King Williams Town, Queen’s College from Queenstown, Höerskool Framesby from Port Elizabeth and Monument from Krugersdorp. The last mentioned and Queen’s return to the festival after a few years away.
Each of the three play days begins with a local primary school playing against the KZN U13 Ibutho Development team at 8.30am. Umhlali Prep, Westville Senior Primary and Highbury will play on Thursday, Saturday and Monday respectively. The senior games kick off at 9.30 each day.
Three players at the festival, identified as having the most promise, will be awarded bursaries to the Sharks Academy immediately after the final match on Monday. This comprises a contract to the Sharks Academy and a tuition bursary with an academic institution.
Hosts Kearsney traditionally plays the first match of the festival, this year against HTS Drostdy. Kearsney, after a short tour north of the province, won their three fixtures against Pionier, Sarel Cilliers and Welkom Gym quite comfortably. The first match in the local fixture list saw Kearsney secure a good 45-3 win against Northwood. Last week they were on a short tour to the Eastern Cape where they played Nico Malan and Marlow, winning both, but being put under pressure by Nico Malan and eventually winning by a single point. Opponents Drostdy has played five games with two wins, a draw and two losses. Kearsney’s other two games are against Höerskool Framesby and Queen’s College.
Glenwood will play Framesby on Thursday. The latter has only played two matches; winning easily against Oudtshoorn and having a tight encounter against Queen’s which they won 6-3. Glenwood has only played one full match and that was against Voortrekker, which they won 34-5. Glenwood’s two other opponents are Dr EG Jansen and Höerskool Noord-Kaap.
As it is early stages of the school rugby season, it is a gamble to predict which schools are likely to be the strongest opponents. Early indications are that Dr EG Jansen does not appear to be as strong as they were last year, but their match against Selborne College on Thursday could be the match of the day.
On Saturday two matches that should be evenly contested are between Glenwood and EG Jansen and the final game of the day, where HTS Middelburg takes on Monument. These two teams played each other on the last Saturday of the last term; with Monument winning narrowly 14-12.
On the last day of the festival, the match between Monument and Selborne College could be a humdinger.
There will be other matches where results should be close, but spectators will want to see fast movement, hard and clean tackling and good sportsmanship prevailing, no matter what the results. Dale, which has played many games over the years at this festival, seldom fail to entertain with their brand of rugby.
Noël Ingle, head of the SA Schools Rugby Association, said the festival provided players with the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best in the country; and this system of strength against strength kept schoolboy rugby strong.
He said it was “our collective responsibility to facilitate rugby development and transformation at this critically important stage in rugby. This festival provides the platform for the growth of rugby in South Africa through transformation and development of the game.”
Gate entrance to the festival is R20 per person. Ample secure parking will be available; as well as food and refreshment outlets and a KidZone, for those wanting to enjoy a day of entertaining rugby. Go to www.kearsney.com for fixtures, results and festival information.
Thursday 13 April
08:30 KZN u13 Dev XV vs Umhlali Prep
09:30 Kearsney College vs HTS Drostdy
10:45 Selborne College vs Dr EG Jansen
12:00 Queen’s College vs Pretoria Boys High
13:15 Höerskool Monument vs Dale College
14:30 Glenwood vs Höerskool Framesby
15:45 HTS Middelburg vs Höerskool Noord-Kaap
Saturday 15 April
08:30 KZN u13 Dev XV vs Westville Senior Primary
09:30 Höerskool Noord-Kaap vs Queen’s College
10:45 Selborne College vs Pretoria Boys High
12:00 Kearsney College vs Höerskool Framesby
13:15 Dr EG Jansen vs Glenwood
14:30 Dale College vs HTS Drostdy
15:45 Höerskool Monument vs HTS Middelburg
Monday 17 April
08:30 KZN u13 Dev XV vs Highbury Prep
09:30 HTS Drostdy vs Pretoria Boys High
10:45 Höerskool Framesby vs Dr EG Jansen
12:00 HTS Middelburg vs Dale College
13:15 Glenwood vs Höerskool Noord-Kaap
14:30 Selborne College vs Höerskool Monument
15:45 Kearsney College vs Queen’s College
17:00 Awarding of Sharks Academy Bursaries