AS they celebrate their 150th anniversary, Durban High School are relishing the prospect of making an impact when they compete in the Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival, supported by Powerade, on Saturday and Monday. (April 30 and May 2)
The KwaZulu-Natal city’s oldest school team have posted an impressive run of victories this season, suffering only two narrow defeats, while scoring notable wins over old rivals Hilton College, Northwood, Westville and Clifton.
Now they get a chance to demonstrate their talents in the Eastern Cape when they take on top PE township team Ithembelihle in their opening game, followed by the feature match on Monday as they draw the curtain on the festival against the hosts.
Coach Scott Mathie said they were excited about competing in the festival and realised they would be in for a tough challenge.
“We have two very interesting fixtures against Ithembelihle and then the main game against Grey,” he said. “Both will challenge the team in completely different ways and our biggest challenge is that we ensure that our attacking brand of rugby is on display.
“We are also extremely grateful in being given the main game on Monday versus Grey, which should be a cracker of a match.”
While Mathie said Ithembe were something of an unknown quantity, they would not make the mistake of taking any team lightly.
“We understand Ithembe like to play a free-running type of rugby so we will need to be on high alert throughout,” he said. “We have seen Grey at St Stithians and they have a fine team who can break open a game from anywhere.
“But as a team, we prefer to focus on what we bring to the party. It’s all about performance and if we can assure we deliver on all our accountables, then the rest remains out of our control.
“This approach has worked well for us this year and we are excited at trying to improve in each game we play.”
Mathie said DHS had benefited this season from an intensive pre-season programme.
“This year the school implemented a proper pre-season conditioning programme through the expertise of ex-Sharks and Springbok conditioner Mark Steele.
“The team took part in a gruelling pre-season camp that lasted five days at the Shongweni Dam, where field sessions were combined with various teambuilding activities. This laid a great foundation for teamwork ethic and culture,” Mathie said.
As in any school, academics is the priority but Mathie said rugby played an important role in the school’s rugby calendar.
“The DHS old boys are extremely proud of their rugby and, being such a significant year, the school has seen just how great their support base is with old boys from across the world connecting with their alma mater,” Mathie said.
“Rugby inspires belief in the school and the support on match day has seen an increasing interest given the turn in form for the oldest school in Durban.”
It’s an indication that DHS will definitely be one of the teams to watch at the festival and their final showdown with Grey High on Monday should provide a fitting and exciting climax to this school’s sporting extravaganza.