Young Graeme team ready for festival examination

Feb 19 • General News, National, School, School Rugby Fixtures, South Africa, South Africa • 118 Views • Comments Off on Young Graeme team ready for festival examination

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A relatively young Graeme side are ready to test themselves in the demanding environment of first team rugby when they compete in the annual Graeme College Rugby Festival in Makhanda from March 14-16.

As excitement begins to build in the squad, as well as the whole school, the challenge for the hosts lies in the perennially tough Selborne College outfit from East London.

The two teams, who drew 7-7 in the corresponding clash two years ago, will again meet in the climax of the festival on the Saturday afternoon (3.30pm) as this annual event maintains the multi-day format introduced for the first time last year.

There has, however, been some tinkering with the program of fixtures, with the opening day (March 14) being taken up with age-group matches and the first teams only seeing action on Friday and Saturday due to a full schools calendar.

Nonetheless, the organizers have lined up what should be an exhilarating three days of schoolboy rugby at its best as the cream of Eastern Cape schools take this chance to showcase their ability.

Despite a certain inexperience in their squad, Graeme coach Jonty van der Meulen is not daunted by what lies ahead and sees the festival as the perfect yardstick to assess their progress this year.

“With a relatively young side, we are excited to see how they go in the competitive environment of first team rugby,” he said.

“We have been working hard as part of our pre-season, but we have to be mindful of player management as a number of boys double up with cricket, water polo or athletics, which I believe is a good thing.

“But I am still confident that the time we have had has been used wisely to get them up to speed with the demands of first team rugby.”

Graeme will have their final warm-up fixture against Daniel Pienaar Tech, from Kariega, on March 9 before tackling the might of Selborne a week later.

“We do realize that Selborne are, and always will be, a force to be reckoned with in Eastern Cape rugby, but that is a challenge we are ready to embrace and we will need to make sure we are at our best on the day,” the coach said.

The Graeme Festival, previously the Graeme Rugby Day, has been a massive part of schoolboy rugby in this region for more than two decades and Van der Meulen feels the passion has not diminished in any way.

“The Graeme Festival is always an exciting way to kick the season off,” he said.

“Although most teams would have played a game or two before then, it is often the first time we get to see many of the sides in a tough clash where they will be under pressure.

“The Graeme College festival organizers will continue to work hard to ensure our event produces quality matches and a vibrant atmosphere on the Graeme campus.”


The first team fixtures are:

March 15, Somerset Field

9am: Graeme 2nd v Port Alfred High 1s;
10.30: Port Rex v Mary Waters;
11.45: Union High v Daniel Pienaar;
13.00: Kingswood v Marlow;
14.15: Dale v Nico Malan;
15.30: Grey High v Hudson Park

March 16, Somerset Field

10.30: Cambridge v Muir;
11.45: Stirling v Framesby;
13.00: Queen’s v Pearson;
14.15: St Andrew’s v Brandwag;
15.30: Graeme v Selborne

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