FRESH from notable victories over arch-rivals Selborne, both Dale and Queen’s will be looking to make a big impact when they take part in the Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival, powered by Powerade, in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and Monday (April 30-May 2).
The Border powerhouses have had good seasons so far and confirmed their credentials with the victories over the Eastern Cape’s top schools side in 2015, Selborne.
There will be a strong Border presence at the festival, with East London teams Stirling and Hudson Park adding another dimension to a tournament where 14 schools from around the country will pit their skills against each other.
Besides the first teams, a number of age-group teams, including the Selborne U14, U15 and U16 teams, will be in action in a festival which will see 32 matches played each day.
While they are riding high at the moment, both Queen’s and Dale know enough not to take any of their opponents lightly. Queen’s face tough PE sides Pearson and Framesby, while Dale will come up against St David’s, from Johannesburg, and competitive Welkom side Goudveld.
Dale coach Grant Griffith is delighted with the team’s performances this year, having lost only to the powerful Glenwood side in seven matches.
“We had a great win over Selborne this last weekend and played some really good rugby in the Kearsney Festival, with good wins over Framesby and Maritzburg College,” Griffith said. “We are really looking forward to our matches at the Grey festival against St David’s and Gouties.”
Queen’s are on a roll, following their win over Selborne with a thumping 50-6 result against Graeme last weekend. Yet coach Dave Bolze is not making the mistake of taking anyone lightly.
“We respect both Pearson and Framesby, and are expecting two tough, physical matches,” Bolze said. “Framesby, especially, are a much better side than what their results have shown this season. They have had some really tough fixtures.”
Having said that, Bolze left no doubt that their intentions were to win both their matches, while not forgetting the friendship aspect these sorts of festivals always promote.
“We want to win both our matches and suffer no serious injuries,” Bolze said. “The Grey Festival is always a highlight for Queen’s. It is not only about the rugby, the boys get to socialise and make friends from other schools.”
As a co-ed school, Hudson Park may lack the numbers of the big boys-only schools, but director of rugby James Winstanley is happy with the competitive instincts the boys have shown, reflected in six wins from nine games this year.
“In fixtures we have lost we have been within a score going into the last 10 minutes, demonstrating that even when we are below par in performance we are able to compete,” he said.
“Hudson Park prides itself on its academic programme. However, we have also established ourselves as the top rugby co-ed of our region and we are constantly closing the gap on our college rivals, which is creating a fantastic buzz and sense of identity with our learners.”
Hudson Park open with an encounter against Muir on Saturday and then face the high-riding Daniel Pienaar on Monday. Daniel Pienaar are fresh from successive wins over Grey High and Framesby, and will be a strong test for the East Londoners.
Stirling will be up against Gouties on Saturday, followed by Graeme on Monday, two matches the school’s sports officer Reinhard Gerber felt would be interesting challenges.
“I think our matches will be tight affairs,” Gerber said. “Goudveld is an unknown entity to us, so that will be a good challenge, and we are definitely going to back ourselves against Graeme College.
“Our major challenges will always be to get our structure right on the day, execute on the right areas of the field, apply pressure in defence, and to have continuity in attack.”
Stirling are in the process of transforming their rugby and, to their credit, they have not shied away from any challenges, taking on major teams such as Grey High, Grey College and Dale.
Admitting the transformation would not happen overnight, Gerber said their participation in the festival would be another step in the process.
“We are delighted to attend such a prestigious festival and hope to continue this relationship with Grey PE,” Gerber said. “We are looking forward to the festival rugby, meeting new people, learning as coaches and players, and to make it an educational experience.”
The fixtures are (first teams unless stated):
Saturday, April 30
8.15: U16 Queen’s v Pearson, U15 Selborne v Framesby, U14 Framesby v Dale
9.30: Muir v Hudson Park, U15 Grey B v Nico Malan, U16 Selborne v Brandwag, U14 Stirling v Gouties (Welkom), U14 Queen’s v Pearson
10.45: Framesby v St Alban’s, U15 Grey v Parktown, U15 Queen’s v Pearson, U15 Stirling v Gouties (Welkom), U14 Selborne v Brandwag
12.00: Dale v St David’s, U16 Grey v Parktown, U15 Muir v Hudson Park, U16 Stirling v Gouties (Welkom), U14 Daniel Pienaar v Graeme
1.15: Daniel Pienaar v Graeme, U15 Outeniqua v Dale, U16 Muir v Hudson Park, Stirling v Gouties (Welkom), U14 Outeniqua v Nico Malan
2.30: Queen’s v Pearson, U16 Framesby v Dale, U15 Daniel Pienaar v Graeme, DHS v Ithembelihle, U14 Grey v Parktown
3.45: Grey v Parktown, U16 St Alban’s v Nico Malan, U16 Daniel Pienaar v Graeme, U14 Muir v Hudson Park
Monday, May 2
8.15: St Alban’s v Muir, U16 Framesby v Queen’s, U15 Nico Malan v Outeniqua, U14 Daniel Pienaar v Hudson Park, U14 Gouties v Dale
9.30: St David’s v Ithembelihle, U16 Pearson v Dale, U16 Parktown v Nico Malan, U15 Daniel Pienaar v Hudson Park, U14 Outeniqua v Pearson
10.45: Graeme v Stirling, U15 Grey v Selborne, U16 St Alban’s v Muir, U16 Daniel Pienaar v Hudson Park, U14 Parktown v Nico Malan
12.00: Gouties v Dale, U16 Grey v Selborne, U15 Graeme v Stirling, Daniel Pienaar v Hudson Park, U14 Framesby v Queen’s
1.15: Parktown v Pearson, U15 Framesby v Queen’s, U16 Graeme v Stirling, U15 Gouties v Dale, U14 Grey v Selborne