Former Springboks Corné Krige and De Wet Barry on the significance of South Africa’s biggest schools derby: Paarl Boys’ High vs Paarl Gimnasium.
Corné Krige (Paarl Boys’ High)
‘It is one of the biggest games of your life. There are around 20,000 people at the game, it doesn’t get any bigger. There is such a fierce rivalry between the two schools and such a massive buildup from the beginning of the week. There won’t be a lot of learning done at Paarl Boys’ or Paarl Gim this week!
‘The changes since I played are very clear. The rivalry itself is still fierce, it probably couldn’t get any fiercer than it was. But U19 rugby itself has changed. It’s not just schools rugby anymore, it is actually professional U19 rugby. We were a little bit more amateur in our days, which is exactly 25 years ago this weekend.
‘Everybody knows that you get measured by whether you win interschools or not. In 1992, when I was in Standard 9 [Grade 11], we had a massive team and we beat everybody in the country comfortably. We were unbeaten going into interschools and lost. We were measured by that loss. The following year, we won a few games here and there, but that did not matter because we won the interschools.
‘I know Paarl Boys’ have lost a few games this year, after being unbeaten for three years. They will only be measured by this weekend. Nobody will worry about any of their other results if they do win.
‘After being unbeaten for as long as Paarl Boys’ had been, sometimes you need to have that downer. Even though it isn’t a real downer, it is by Paarl Boys’ own high standards. But still, they will be a very successful team if they do win this weekend.
‘Paarl Gim have the better team, but it is not a massive difference. With it being an interschools and the pressure on Paarl Gim, I would have to back my school and say they are going to win, but not by a big margin.
‘Overall, it is just a massive occasion and it was a great pleasure and a massive honour to have been a part of it.’
De Wet Barry (Paarl Gim)
‘You watch the games as a youngster and wait for your opportunity in matric to play. So it is not just a buildup in the week, but a long personal buildup towards the opportunity to play 1st XV.
‘There is a little bit of added pressure for the kids who are only 16 and 17 years old. But it is fantastic and wonderful to be a part of something so special that has been built over 100 years. Especially this year, with Boishaai celebrating their 150th anniversary.
‘Your chances of becoming a professional rugby player and a Springbok are very slim, so this could be one of the biggest games these kids play. They must grab that opportunity and it is fantastic for them to be part of this special derby.
‘It is the most important game for both of these schools in their rugby calendar. It sometimes makes or breaks their year. Paarl Boys’ High were unbeaten last year, but if they had lost to Paarl Gim, it would have been a downer. That is, unfortunately, the kind of pressure these guys are playing under in this game.
‘As much as we might emphasise the result of this match, we must also look at the development of the players and how they develop throughout the year. It is not always about the win, it must also be about how the team developed in the year. But unfortunately, there is a lot at stake in this one game.
‘Both sides will be under equal pressure this week. Paarl Gim would really like to win and break Boishaai’s three-year run against them. It doesn’t matter if you are the underdogs or the favourites, the pressure is always there.
‘I would love both these teams to play some running rugby as they have done all season. Of course, it starts with the packs and if it does rain this weekend, the guys will have to adapt, but if the weather plays its part, I would love to see the boys throw the ball around a bit.
‘As a Paarl Gim boy, I will always back them. They have been outstanding and if they keep that consistency going through this week, I will back them for the win.’
Interviews by Dylan Jack
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images