TOP CLASS SCHOOLS RUGBY KICKS OFF

Mar 30 • General News, School, School Rugby Festivals • 2102 Views • Comments Off on TOP CLASS SCHOOLS RUGBY KICKS OFF

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Caption:
Sharks players Tera Mthembu and Francois Kleinhans kick off the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival outreach initiative ‘Boots & Balls’ by handing over rugby equipment and clothing to the KZNRU Development Programme’s Quentin Reynolds (left), LIV’s Chester Koyana and the festival’s Joy Mills-Hackmann.

The prestigious Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival kicks off this Thursday (2nd) with 12 top South African rugby-playing schools participating.

Locals will be particularly keen to see how three of the top ranked KZN schools – hosts Kearsney, Glenwood and Westville – fare against some of the country’s best.

This is the 8thannual festival hosted by Kearsney and it is now recognised as one of the foremost Easter rugby festivals in the country, with seven of the schools present ranked in the top 20 at the end of 2014. Once again it is expected to offer spectators thrilling match-ups and exciting running rugby that makes this style of the game so popular.

The oldest school in South Africa, SACS from Cape Town, will be in their 152nd year of rugby and will bring the Western Cape flavour, with their first visit to the festival. Although the lowest ranked of the participating schools, they could surprise. The top-ranked side from 2014, Grey College from Bloemfontein, will be a big draw-card as they are always a side that is difficult to beat, due to their skilful running and powerful forward play. They have a particularly heavy pack this year.

Affies and Menlo Park, the latter making their first appearance at the festival, both travel from Pretoria. Although Affies did not make the top 20 last year, they will be a force in the coming months with a very good under 16 side in 2014, five of whom played at the U16 Grant Khomo Week, another two represented the Blue Bulls at Craven Week and one player at the Academy Week.

Three Eastern Cape schools – Selborne from East London, Framesby from Port Elizabeth and Dale from King Williams Town – bring three different styles of rugby, adding to the enjoyment of the week. Selborne has five players in their pack all over 100kgs and this will assist them to give a good supply of ball to their backline. Framesby, a never-say-die side, will play to the last whistle and, with a lighter pack, will likely spread the ball. Dale, with their dynamic back line, can never be discounted and with a heavy front row this year which is likely to get more ball, dynamite could be in the offing.

EG Jansen is a hard, uncompromising XV from the East Rand and sides coming up against them will know they have been in a tough game. They have four players from last year’s Craven Week, including their captain and lock, who is 2.01m and weighs 108kgs. While HTS Middelburg from Mpumalanga may not appear to have as much talent as last year, they will also be a tough side to play against.

Kearsney open the festival playing their first match against Selborne and, although the hosts lost against Noordkaap last Saturday, they have had two good wins locally against Glenwood and Hilton. This should give them plenty of confidence against the tough Border side.

When last did Glenwood lose their first two matches against KZN teams as they have done this year? This will make them determined in their first match against Framesby. Westville will attempt to bounce back after losing to Maritzburg College on Saturday and their match against Menlo Park on Thursday could be a humdinger.

Talent scouts will be present over the duration of the three days, looking for players with flair and ability. The Sharks Academy, as they have done each year, will award bursaries to the value of R100 000 each to three players.

A new aspect this year is outreach initiative ‘Boots & Balls’ which, in conjunction with the KZNRU Development Programme, will equip players from less privileged backgrounds with rugby kit and equipment. Those going to the festival are asked to take new or good-condition second-hand rugby kit and leave them in collection bins adjacent to the main field. All sizes of rugby shorts and jerseys, socks, boots, rugby balls, kit bags and any equipment would be appreciated and contributions will be handed over during the closing ceremony after the final game.

The support by major sponsors Standard Bank, The Sharks Academy, Illovo Sugar and Nashua once again serves to endorse the prestigious status of the festival.

Play days are Thursday 2, Saturday 4 and Monday 6 April, with kick-off at 9.30am each day. A primary schools fixture between Umhlali Prep, Pelham Senior Primary and Highbury against the KZNRU u13 Ibutho Development team will take place at 8.30 each day.

Gate entrance is R50 per vehicle or R20 for pedestrians, which includes a programme with statistics and pen pictures of all the players. Ample secure parking will be available; as well as food and refreshment outlets for those wanting to enjoy a day of entertaining rugby.

FIXTURES:
Thursday 2 April: 09:30 Kearsney vs Selborne; 10:45 Dale vs SACS; 12:00 Westville vs Menlopark; 13:15 Affies vs EG Jansen; 14:30 Glenwood vs Framesby; 15:45 Grey College vs HTS Middelburg

Saturday 4 April: 09:30 Selborne vs Menlopark; 10:45 Westville vs Dale; 12:00 Kearsney vs Grey College; 13:15 Affies vs SACS; 14:30 Glenwood vs HTS Middelburg; 15:45 EG Jansen vs Framesby

Monday 6 April: 09:30 Westville vs SACS; 10:45 Affies vs Framesby; 12:00 Selborne vs HTS Middelburg; 13:15 Glenwood vs Menlopark; 14:30 Grey College vs EG Jansen; 15:45 Kearsney vs Dale.

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