Supporters of fast-paced schoolboy rugby are set to score with this week’s announcement that the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival will again kick off over Easter weekend.
This 14th festival promises thrilling match-ups between some of the country’s top-ranked rugby schools, as well as the United Kingdom’s current ACE League champions, over the three play days – Thursday 6, Saturday 8 and Monday 10 April.
Glenwood, Westville, Durban High School (DHS) and hosts Kearsney College will represent KwaZulu-Natal. Returning to the festival are two powerhouse teams from Gauteng – Hoërskool Monument and Dr EG Jansen – and exciting Eastern Cape regulars Hoërskool Framesby (Gqeberha/ Port Elizabeth), Dale College (Qonce/ King Williams Town) and Hoër Landbouskool Marlow (Cradock), as well as Kimberley’s Hoërskool Noord-Kaap.
The organisers are excited to welcome newcomers are Worcester Gimnasium from the Western Cape and Hartpury College from the UK. Hartpury has won the UK’s national ACE League final 10 times in the last 12 years, and was named as the best in the world at producing professional rugby players in a study by NextGenXV.
Continued participation of this calibre of teams highlights the festival’s prestigious status amongst players, coaches and supporters. Schoolboy rugby plays an invaluable role in the development of South Africa’s rugby culture, and instils the values of sportsmanship, team work and respect in young players.
In keeping with the festival’s tradition, four primary school teams and an U13 development team have also been invited to showcase their skills. They are Highbury Preparatory, Hillcrest Senior Primary, Westville Senior Primary and Umhlali Preparatory, as well as the KZNRU Ibutho /Mark Godefroy team. An U13 game will kick off play each day, followed by six high school fixtures.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s festival, Kearsney headmaster Patrick Lees acknowledged the support of major sponsors Standard Bank, Halfway Ford and The Sharks, which has enabled the festival to grow significantly since its inception in 2008.
Standard Bank’s head of Commercial Clients, Craig Polkinghorne, said they were proud of their two-decade association with Kearsney and the festival which they have sponsored since 2012.
“As a bank heavily invested in education in South Africa, we recognise the critical role of sport in a well-rounded education and fully developed character. Moreover, we understand the role of sport in binding together people and communities in South Africa, building strong civil society,” he said.
Trevor Browse, CEO of the Halfway Group, said schoolboy rugby has an unbridled passion and purity that is often lost at higher levels, with many lifelong rivalries being born over the festival. The depth of South Africa’s available talent would ensure we remain globally competitive in the game, he said.
Colleague Chilton Penery, dealer principal at Halfway Ford Waterfall, said the company was extremely proud to be associated once again “with this amazing yearly initiative”.
Michael Horak, The Sharks high performance manager, said it was important for players to soak up their experiences, have fun with their fellow teammates and make long lasting memories.
“The Sharks and The Sharks Academy are proud of our association with the iconic Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival since its inception. We look forward to seeing what these young players, from the best schoolboy teams around the country, bring to KERF this year,” he said.
Together with The Sharks, the festival’s successful Boots & Balls outreach initiative will again collect
new and used sports gear, with the focus on rugby gear. All donated kit is sorted, refurbished and distributed to selected KZN Rugby Development schools and clubs. Participating teams and the public are requested to leave kit in designated collection bins at the main field.
Considered to be one of the most prestigious and well-organised schools’ rugby festivals in South Africa, teams travel with families and supporters to enjoy top schoolboy rugby in a family-friendly festival atmosphere on Kearsney’s beautiful campus, as well as enjoy KZN’s glorious Easter weather.
Numerous food outlets, a refreshment tent, exciting KidZone for little ones and ample available parking will ensure spectators can fully enjoy the special family atmosphere at Botha’s Hill.
Fixtures and festival information are available on www.kearsney.com and, for those unable to attend the festival, it will be live-streamed on the SuperSport Schools app.
PLAY DAYS OVER EASTER WEEKEND
Day 1: Thursday, 6 April 2023
Day 2: Saturday, 8 April 2023
Day 3: Monday, 10 April 2023
Day 1 Thursday 6 April
08:00 KZNRU Ibutho/Mark Godefroy U13 vs Umhlali Preparatory
09:00 Kearsney College vs Dale College
10:20 Durban High School vs Worcester Gimnasium
11:40 Hoërskool Monument vs Hoërskool Framesby
13:00 Westville Boys’ High School vs Hoërskool Noord-Kaap
14:20 Hoërskool Dr E G Jansen vs Hartpury College (UK)
15:40 Glenwood High School vs Hoër Landbouskool Marlow
Day 2 Saturday 8 April
08:00 KZNRU Ibutho/Mark Godefroy U13 vs Highbury Preparatory
09:00 Hartpury College (UK) vs Westville Boys’ High School
10:20 Worcester Gimnasium vs Hoër Landbouskool Marlow
11:40 Glenwood High School vs Dale College
13:00 Hoërskool Dr E G Jansen vs Kearsney College
14:20 Durban High School vs Hoërskool Framesby
15:40 Hoërskool Monument vs Hoërskool Noord-Kaap
Day 3 Monday 10 April
08:00 Westville Senior Primary vs Hillcrest Primary
09:00 Worcester Gimnasium vs Glenwood High School
10:20 Hoër Landbouskool Marlow vs Durban High School
11:40 Hoërskool Monument vs Dale College
13:00 Westville Boys’ High School vs Hoërskool Dr E G Jansen
14:20 Hoërskool Framesby vs Hoërskool Noord-Kaap
15:40 Kearsney College vs Hartpury College (UK)