Caption: Festival sponsor Standard Bank’s Derek Kimber, Kearsney College headmaster Elwyn van den Aardweg, the Sharks’ Tera Mthembu and Etienne Fynn, head of the Sharks Academy.
The ninth annual Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival was launched this week, promising once again to provide exciting fast-paced action from some of the country’s notable rugby-playing schools.
Ten South African school teams renowned for their rugby pedigree will participate over the three play days – Thursday 24th March, Saturday 26th and Monday 28th – on the Kearsney College campus in Botha’s Hill, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
This year two schools will be participating for the first time: Maritzburg College and Hoërskool Noord-Kaap from Kimberley. They will join Boksburg’s Dr EG Jansen; HTS Middelburg; the Eastern Cape’s Selborne College (East London), Dale College (King William’s Town) and Hoërskool Framesby (Port Elizabeth); SACS from Cape Town; as well as Glenwood High School and hosts Kearsney College from KwaZulu-Natal.
The festival is sure to once again provide exciting, highly entertaining action, with five senior 1st XV fixtures on each play day. Kicking off each day will be a match between primary school teams Highbury Preparatory, Pelham Senior Primary, Umhlali Preparatory and the KZNRU IBUTHO/Mark Godefroy u13 Development team.
Speaking at the launch of the 2016 edition of the festival, Kearsney headmaster Elwyn van den Aardweg said the school was celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, and was gearing up to welcome the capacity crowds which the festival always attracts.
“We continue to position the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival as a perfect destination for schoolboy rugby enthusiasts from all over the country. Durban, with its exciting holiday attractions, and Kearsney, situated on the most beautiful campus, combine to ensure a fun-filled weekend of meeting up with old friends, enjoying the best of schoolboy rugby. This year every effort has been made to provide a family-friendly environment with wholesome entertainment for the very young to the seasoned enthusiast,” he said.
The Sharks CEO John Smit said they were delighted with their on-going association with the prestigious festival, which continued to evolve each year and was a highlight on the school calendar. He said the Sharks Academy would again be on hand to award bursaries to deserving recipients.
“The Sharks Academy is delighted to be associated with the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival as we consistently have great returns, in the form of Academy attendees, who go on to be successful performers on pitches throughout the world,” said Sharks Academy head Etienne Fynn.
The festival provided players with an ideal platform to demonstrate their talent, ability and passion to the talent scouts who watch the festival. It was a wonderful opportunity for youngsters to be noticed and to advance their rugby careers, he said.
A prime example was 2008 Dale College eighth man Lubabalo ‘Tera’ Mthembu who impressed with his game and who returned the following year to captain his school’s 1st XV at the festival. He was awarded a bursary to the Sharks Academy which, he says, provided a kick start to his life and career. “It gave me an opportunity to express myself, but also a lifetime opportunity to study and do what I love – which is playing rugby – at the same time.” He has gone on to represent the Sharks at Super Rugby and Currie Cup levels.
The Sharks Academy will offer full bursaries for 2017 to three selected players. These bursaries will include a contract with the Sharks Academy, accommodation and a tuition bursary with one of its reputable education partners.
Van den Aardweg thanked the festival sponsors, whose valued support had enabled the festival to grow over the years. Standard Bank has been headline sponsor for four years, the Sharks and Sharks Academy have supported the festival since its inception, whilst Nashua Durban remained a valued sponsor, together with several other partners and companies, he said.
Endorsing their sponsorship of the festival, Standard Bank’s Funeka Montjane said it was an opportunity to support and nurture the leaders of the future; whilst Nashua Durban’s Martin Pretorius urged players to make the most of the opportunities the festival afforded them. He gave credit to the boys’ parents and families for their support on and off the field.
Festival director Mouton Badenhorst emphasised the strong family focus of the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival. This year’s festival will include a KidZone for the first time, offering a number of exciting rides for little ones to enjoy.
The ‘Boots and Balls’ outreach initiative, which was started in 2015, was also being extended this year, he said. Participating players and the public are requested to leave new or good condition second-hand rugby kit and clothing in designated collection bins at the main field. Contributions will be handed over to the KZNRU Development Programme during the closing ceremony. They will sort, refurbish and distribute all donated goods to development teams throughout the province.
Gate entrance to the festival is R50 per vehicle or R20 for pedestrians, which includes a glossy souvenir brochure with player statistics. Ample secure parking will be available; as well as food and refreshment outlets for those wanting to enjoy a full day of entertaining rugby.
Standard Bank’s Facebook pages: facebook.com/standardbankSA
Standard Banks’ Twitter account: twitter.com/standardbankza
Join the conversation… use #SBSchoolsFest