Clifton School will stick with a ball-in-hand approach for Saturday’s match against St David’s Marist Inanda in Johannesburg, writes THEO GARRUN.
Things are quieting down on the schools rugby front as the midyear exam period kicks off, but there are still a few interesting clashes on this weekend
In Joburg, one of the newer annual encounters is between two of the smaller independent schools: St David’s Marist Inanda and Clifton School from Durban.
Honours have been pretty even since the two schools began playing each other and their playing records so far this season are similar, so an interesting clash is on the cards.
Clifton come into the game off a comprehensive 63-17 win over St Andrew’s of Bloemfontein last weekend, while St David’s were well beaten by the very impressive St Alban’s in their last encounter (50-3), but had good wins in the three games prior to that – 24-7 vs Northcliff; 22-19 vs St Benedict’s and 55-12 vs Sutherland.
Clifton’s coach Ross Saayman described their season as ‘reasonably successful’ so far.
‘We have had a few narrow losses, and some wins over our traditional rivals,’ he said. ‘I think our skill development and the expansive game we play have been a pleasure to watch.’
Travelling to Joburg and playing at altitude will definitely be a factor, he said, but the players are suitably conditioned.
‘I’m not overly concerned that it will affect our ball-in-hand approach.’
St David’s coach Johan Botha said they have had a busy season.
‘We were fortunate to be part of the St John’s and Grey PE festivals and to tour Ireland. Highlights of the season thus far are our victories over old rivals Parktown and St Benedict’s,’ he said.
Playing so much rugby has brought about a few injuries in key positions. But Botha sees that as an opportunity for the younger guys to step up and prove that they worth a spot in the 1st XV.
‘The boys are excited to play a team from another province, especially one that is similar in stature than us. Hosting their boys is a good way to build friendships off the rugby field,’ he said.
‘This fixture is a fairly new one for us, it adds to the excitement to play a school we do not normally get to play against.
‘I’m expecting a physical game up front. They have a No 10 with an educated boot who will keep us pinned in our half and make us run it back at them.
‘I am looking forward to a good exhibition of schoolboy rugby.’
Photo: Theo Garrun