The top rugby school in the country, Grey College, will be put to the test early in the season during the 2019 World Schools Festival in Stellenbosch. The team from Bloemfontein, which was unbeaten in 2018, will tackle two New Zealand teams at the Paul Roos Gymnasium in the form of Christchurch Boys’ High School and Southland Boys’ High School.
The season for Grey kicks off this Saturday when they travel to Upington, where they will be in action against Hoërskool Duineveld. A week later the boys in blue will be facing Welkom Gimnasium in Brandfort.
As it is still early days and there are injuries, the coach, Wessel du Plessis, will be using both encounters to iron out any wrinkles and to test combinations before getting down to business.
As it stands, two captains have been appointed for the first two games, with the headboy, Ian Small-Smith, leading the side on the field in Upington, and next week in Brandfort, George Cronjé will take charge of the team. A decision on the captain for the season will be made after their two games.
Looking ahead at the games against the two Kiwi teams, Du Plessis, told Bloemfontein Courant, that they welcome the tough challenge.
“You always want to measure yourself against the best, but it will be tough as we will be coming out of the North-South competition in South Africa, in which we will also be involved in two tough games (Menlo Park and Garsfontein).
“So, it’s going to be four tough games. Having said that, it is always a privilege playing against top teams from New Zealand. We will be able to measure ourselves and see where South African schoolboy rugby stands against New Zealand schoolboy rugby.”
The fact that Grey was unbeaten in 2018 and because they thumped Christchurch 66-28 at the World Schools Festival at Paarl Boys’ High, paints a big target on their backs, and Du Plessis expects their New Zealand counterparts to come at them hard.
“I expect both of those encounters to be tough. They are two good and strong teams, and if I am not mistaken, both won their conferences back home, and Christchurch was one of the top four teams in the country.
“These are two really well-known schools, and it is an international match. There will be a lot of pride and good rugby on display on the day.”
Grey will be facing Christchurch on 27 March at the Markötter Field in Stellenbosch, and on 30 March they will be up against Southland.
It is believed that the 2020 edition of the World Schools Festival will be staged at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) in Pretoria, while the 2022 tournament has been confirmed for Hilton College in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. At the stage, the 2021 is set for Grey College in Bloemfontein, but this has not been finalised yet.
– MORGAN PIEK