Confident Jeppe face vulnerable Affies

Jeppe will be looking to beat Affies for the first time at 1st XV level since the schools began playing full rugby fixtures on an annual basis in 2010. THEO GARRUN reports.

The 2018 edition of the traditional match-up is at Jeppe this Saturday (1:15pm kick-off) and it looks, on paper, as if the home side has a better chance of breaking their duck than in previous years.

Affies go into the game on the back of three consecutive defeats – to Paarl Boys’ High (19-14), Glenwood (37-34) and Grey College (39-28). By their high standards, it hasn’t been a great season. Earlier, they went down to Paarl Gim as well and they have just two wins so far, against Boland Landbou and KES.

Jeppe have only lost once this season, 19-3 to Selborne, and they have had good wins in their last three fixtures – 24-21 over KES, 59-23 over Westville and 66-12 over St Benedict’s.

So Jeppe are on a roll and Affies are in a bit of a slump, on paper. The big difference, of course, is in the quality of the opposition they have played. Affies lost to three of the top five sides in the land recently, while Jeppe’s wins have been over teams ranked lower than themselves. Jeppe lost to Selborne, and in their games against the only common opposition, KES, both schools won narrowly.

Having said that, Jeppe’s confidence will be up and they have some quality players in their ranks, as is shown by the inclusion of seven players in the Golden Lions shadow Craven Week team.

Affies also have players in the Blue Bulls mix, and they will be keen to get back on the winning track.

Affies coach Jaco Koch says there were a lot of positives to take out of their loss to Grey College last weekend.

‘We put ourselves under pressure in the first 20 minutes, but then showed great character to pull it back. With 10 minutes to go, we were in the lead, 28-27. We were disappointed not to be able to pull it through, but very proud of our boys in the manner by which they fought back. Our message to the boys at the end of the game was that you sometimes send out a better, louder message in fighting the way we did, than by winning the game.’

REPORT: Grey secure dramatic victory over Affies

Koch says that while Jeppe is a different challenge, his side approaches every game in the same manner.

‘We play tough competition every week. None more challenging than the other. Playing Jeppe away is always a big challenge. They have a very good side. These derbies against English schools are of utmost importance to Affies rugby as a whole.’

Jeppe coach Carl Spilhaus says he is relatively happy with his team’s performances so far.

‘We were put under pressure by Selborne College and could not respond with any accuracy, but other than that, we have done well.

‘Playing a top side like Affies is a different challenge. We prepare the same physically, but we need to adjust our mental preparation.’

Both coaches see the disruption of their preparations through provincial commitments as part of the game at this time of the season.

‘The boys are playing a lot of games and this is when having done the right pre-season preparation becomes very important,’ Spilahus said. ‘At this time of the year, everyone is in the same boat and we cannot use it as an excuse.’

Koch believes the management of players becomes important at this stage of the season.

‘To keep players fit, psychologically and physiologically, is the main challenge. However, this does not only affect us, but also the other schools.’

There will be 21 rugby games and 15 hockey games played between the two schools on the day.

Head to head:

2010: Affies 62 Jeppe 0
2011: Jeppe 20 Affies 39
2012: Jeppe 3 Affies 52
2013: Jeppe 18 Affies 36
2014: Jeppe 11 Affies 23
2015: Affies 64 Jeppe 26
2016: Jeppe 32 Affies 52
2017: Affies 52 Jeppe 22

Photo: Theo Garrun