The recent cutting of ties and subsequent cancellation of a nearly century-long derby between DHS and Glenwood shows the ugly side of school sports is here to stay, writes DYLAN JACK.
Disappointing, yet hardly surprising, news broke on Thursday that the governing body of Durban High School had decided to cut ties with Glenwood, owing to recent tensions between the two schools.
SARugbymag.co.za understands that at the heart of the issue is the recruitment of four DHS schoolboys between Grade 8 and 9 by Glenwood.
It is not the first time that the decision has had to be made. Back in 2012, the DHS body reportedly decided to cancel all sporting fixtures against Glenwood, with the underlying reason allegedly attempts by Glenwood to recruit DHS students who excelled at sport. The situation was, however, resolved and the sporting fixtures continued in 2013 and beyond.
In 2019 similar tensions arose between Wynberg Boys’ High and Paarl Boys’ High, again leading to the cancellation of fixtures between the schools last year. During this time, Eastern Cape schools Dale College and Queen’s College raised their concerns of having players ‘poached’ by the KwaZulu-Natal schools.
26 of the state boys’ schools in South Africa have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Part of this MOU rejects poaching and approaching boys or their parents with offers or incentives to join a school. It further states that any application to change schools after a pupil has been enrolled needs to be discussed between the principals of the schools in advance.
However, time and time again certain schools blatantly break the MOU by doing the very thing they have promised not to do.
All of this shows the inevitability of certain schools’ over-the-top approach to becoming the best rugby or even sports school in the country.
It is actually scary to contemplate that six of South Africa’s top rugby schools are currently in negotiations to establish a new ‘SA Schools Rugby Challenge’. The new competition, which aims to take place from 2021 onwards, would have the six schools going head to head in a strength-vs-strength tournament.
The fact that as part of the guidelines for the new series, the organisers felt the need to write a guideline for the eligibility of players transferring between schools, tells its own story.
In the end, it is the very tradition that these schools use as a selling point that suffers. Due to these tensions between Glenwood and DHS, a 1st XV derby that stretches back to the 1920s will in all probability not be played this year.
This is a derby which has hosted Springboks in BJ Botha (DHS), Alistair Hargreaves (DHS) and John Allan (Glenwood) and, more recently, provincial players in James Venter (Glenwood) and Phendulani Buthelezi (DHS). It is a derby that hosted the famous Maritzburg College coach Skonk Nicholson, who matriculated at DHS and captained their 1st XV.
The sad thing is that the drive to be the best shows no sign of abating. As long as there are incentives, schools will always push the boundaries to ensure their 1st XV rugby side is dominant on the schools scene.
In the fanfare of 1st XV derbies, traditional rivalries and promising school superstars, we often forget that the basic purpose of schools sports is to educate. Sure, there will always be a competitive edge, especially when it comes to first teams. But sometimes schools need to remember that the boys out there on the field just want to play.
Photo: Durban High School