Grey College were crowned unofficial South African schools champions this past weekend, while Monument ruled in the north. THEO GARRUN reports.
The big games over the past weekend were undoubtedly the national decider – Grey College vs Paul Roos Gimnasium – and the Virseker Trophy final between Monument and Helpmekaar. And, of course, SA Schools’ emphatic win over England.
Grey and Paul Roos went into their clash in Bloemfontein with their unbeaten records intact, although Grey were given a scare by Glenwood a fortnight earlier and had to weather a storm to draw 25-25.
That meant that the winner of Saturday’s clash can be called the unofficial top school in the land, and Grey’s 28-26 victory will no doubt see them listed at No 1 on all the online ranking lists. Glenwood didn’t play Paul Roos, but they came within one kick of beating Grey, so they too have a claim for the top spot, which underlines the flawed concept of compiling rankings of schools.
Nonetheless, Grey were never beaten in 15 outings against the best that the country could offer and they had some future superstars in their ranks. They are worthy ‘champions’.
Monument are champions of the northern part of the country. They beat Helpmekaar 57-11 in the final of the Virseker Cup, a gruelling league and knockout competition that began in May.
It was Helpmekaar’s first season in the top tier of the competition and they did well to make the final, but Monument have developed a reputation of turning it on in finals. This was the second year in a row that they have won this one, and they also won the Tuks Series – the early season tournament – for the second consecutive year.
On a personal note, Monument coach Tjaart van der Walt has now won the competition (and its differently named predecessor), four times in a row – with Garsfontein in 2015 and 2016, and now with Monnas in 2017 and 2018.
The SA Schools team had a miserable international series last year, losing to Wales, France and England. So, although they lost to the very good French team, their wins over Wales and England showed a big improvement.
They put it all together right at the end and their emphatic 41-22 win over England on Saturday did plenty to eradicate the memories of the hiding they got from the same team exactly one year ago.
The schools rugby season comes to a close next weekend with the Cape Town southern suburbs derbies – Bishops vs Rondebosch and SACS vs Wynberg – just about the only big games still to go. Bishops beat Rondebosch 25-20 and Wynberg beat SACS 46-22 when the first legs of the derby double-headers were played on 9 June. Those results won’t count for much on Saturday, though, in the red-hot atmosphere that always accompanies Cape Town’s biggest schoolboy clashes.
Photo: Marnus van Wyk