South Africa underlined its status as possibly the strongest country when it comes to schoolboy rugby on the second day of the World Schools Festival at the Markotter Field of Paul Roos Gymnasium on Wednesday.
The large crowd in attendance was treated to an incredible display of running rugby, particularly from the hosts, as the South African contingent of teams won all five of the day’s matches.
Paul Roos took on Southland Boys’ High School from New Zealand in the final match of the day, with both teams making their debuts at the festival. The home side was anything but overawed by the occasion and ran their opponents ragged.
Paul Roos scored total of fifteen five-pointers, with Andrew Pegg, Meiring Ebersohn, Ruben Labuschagne and Tiaan Pretorius all bagging a brace, as the side pulled-off a crushing 93-5 hammering of the New Zealanders. Southland’s only try of the game came late in the second half courtesy of winger Allan Gillies.
Christchurch Boys’ High were looking for revenge when they faced Grey College in the penultimate match of the day, after the New Zealanders had been convincingly beaten by the same opponents at the 2018 Festival. The match was preceded by a moment of silence following the shooting tragedy that took place in Christchurch earlier this month, after which Grey College presented the tourists with a commemorative plaque.
That however was where the niceties ended, as Grey College completely dominated matters on the field. The boys from Bloemfontein ran in eleven tries, nine of which were converted by FC du Plessis, as they cruised to a 73-26 hammering of their Kiwi opponents. Grey’s outside centre Lesley Botha was a key figure in many of his side’s attacks, and was named man-of-the-match, despite not crossing the chalk.
Napier Boys’ High School provided a far sterner challenge when they took on Boland Landbou. While the South Africans began with a bang, Napier slowly fought their way back, with their hefty pack having the upper-hand come scrum time. The New Zealanders had numerous opportunities to take the lead at the death, but failed to make them count, as Boland Landbou held on for a hard-fought and highly entertaining 30-25 victory.
Napier Boys’ impressive efforts were largely thanks to having been part of the World Schools Festival in 2018. Head coach Brendon Ratcliffe admitted that following his team’s defeats at the inaugural tournament, the side changed their playing style to that of the South African teams they played. “South Africa produces the best schoolboy sides I’ve ever seen,” Ratcliffe said. “When we returned to New Zealand last year, we made a concerted effort to play “South Africa fast”, as the boys here play at a speed and pace unlike anywhere else in the world!”
The opening match of the day saw an on-fire Affies team overcome a competitive Italian All-Stars side 36-12. Flanker Adolph Visser was the star of the show for the Pretoria-based school, scoring a hattrick of tries in a man-of-the-match performance. The Italians put on an impressive display, with Valerio Bizotto and Giovanni Montemauri both getting on the scoresheet, but their opponents were ultimately just too strong.
Hilton College meanwhile continued their good run at the festival. The Brad McLoed Henderson-coached team, who were undefeated at last year’s event, defeated the USA Schools XV 43-0. They will next face the Italians in what promises to be an exciting contest.
After two days of action, the South African sides have increased their World Schools Festival lead to 18-2 over their foreign counterparts in the Ryder Cup-style event, with each side awarded two points for a win and one for a draw.
The Rest of the World contingent’s solitary victory came on the opening day, when the World Select XV defeated the Western Province Invitational side 76-29.
Thursday will see the teams enjoy a rest-day as they explore the sights and sounds of the Western Cape, before the action kicks off again on Friday when the Western Province Invitational team faces the Zambezi Steelers from Zimbabwe.
World Schools Festival Results
Glenwood 32-17 John McGlashan College
WP Invitational 29-76 World Select XV
SACS 43-24 Zambezi Steelers
Monument 32-21 Hartpury College
Paarl Gimnasium 50-24 Africa Pacific Dragons
Affies 36-12 Italian All-Stars
Boland Landbou 30–25 Napier Boys’ High School
Hilton College 43-0 USA Schools XV
Grey College 73-26 Christchurch Boys’ High School
Paul Roos 93-5 Southland Boys’ High School
World Schools Festival Fixtures
10:30 – 11:45 WP Invitational vs Zambezi Steelers
12:30 – 13:15 Glenwood vs Africa Pacific Dragons
13:30 – 14:45 SACS vs World Select XV
15:00 – 16:15 Paarl Gimnasium vs Hartpury College
16:30 – 17:45 Monument vs John McGlashan College
10:30 – 11:45 Boland Landbou vs USA Schools XV
12:30 – 13:15 Hilton College vs Italian All-Stars
13:30 – 14:45 Grey College vs Southland Boys’ High School
15:00 – 16:15 Affies vs Christchurch Boys’ High School
16:30 – 17:45 Paul Roos vs Napier Boys’ High School