Glenwood will be looking to beat Grey College for the first time since 2006 when the teams meet in Durban on Saturday. THEO GARRUN reports.
The schools rugby season is coming to a head, with some massive encounters scheduled for the next few weekends.
The way the season has panned out, we go into the final three weeks with the three top sides – according to results and fixture lists – still unbeaten, and playing off, after a fashion, for the right to be called SA’s top school in 2018.
Paul Roos Gimnasium, Grey College and Glenwood are the top three on all of the ranking lists that some organisations like to compile and, with Grey playing Glenwood this weekend and Paul Roos travelling to Bloemfontein on 18 August, it will be possible to place them one, two, three when it’s all over.
I say after a fashion because it’s not possible to rank the schools precisely as they don’t have common fixture lists, neither do the top schools all play each other – Glenwood don’t have a fixture with Paul Roos, for example, so who knows who would have won between the two.
Nonetheless, should Grey beat Glenwood on Saturday and go on to beat Paul Roos on 18 August, no one will be able to dispute their being awarded the crown.
Which makes Saturday’s game in Durban even bigger than it would normally be. History certainly favours Grey College. The teams haven’t met every year, but out of the last 14 encounters, Grey have won 13, with Glenwood’s sole victory coming back in 2006 when they won 14-10.
And Grey have been comfortable winners in recent times. They won 83-10 last year, 39-10 in 2016 and 40-10 in 2015.
Those scores don’t matter now, of course, and there’s no doubt that this is a special Glenwood side and their wins over Affies, Outeniqua and Monument have shown that they can take on, and beat, the big guns.
Grey College have the tougher fixture list of the two and to come through unbeaten in a year when you play Paarl Gim, Paarl Boys’ High, Affies, Monument, Selborne and Grey High, is remarkable. They will be full of confidence following their demolition of Grey High last weekend.
The coaches of both teams told SARugbymag.co.za that thoughts of unbeaten seasons haven’t been part of their preparation for the game.
‘Since the season started we have never spoken of results. Our major emphasis has been on our own identity and team culture,’ said Glenwood’s Derek Heiberg. ‘We wanted to clearly define what the team stood for collectively and how each individual could contribute to that. That is something that we constantly review and are fiercely protective of.
‘The boys have been amazing in how they have accepted the responsibility and deserve all the credit for the success that the team has achieved this season.’
Grey coach Wessel du Plessis said that they always take each game as it comes.
‘There has been no talk about what has gone before and what’s still to come,’ he added.
Both schools had a number of players at the U18 Craven Week in July, and both say the boys quickly adapted to playing for their school teams again.
‘I think players always try their best, especially at provincial weeks, but also love playing for their school’s 1st XV,’ Du Plessis said.
‘All our boys enjoyed Craven Week,’ said Heiberg. ‘We were a little concerned about how they would feel being back as part of a school setup, especially as we only had one training session before our game against HTS Middleburg. But they were all excited to be back in the green jersey of Glenwood, which is indicative of the environment that exists within the team.’
Du Plessis is looking forward to an entertaining game on Saturday.
‘Both sides like attacking rugby and the fact that both sides are still unbeaten will add to the game.’
Heiberg admits that Glenwood don’t have a great track record against Grey, so they go into the match as underdogs.
‘We place emphasis on our processes and feel that if we can control the variables that are our responsibility, we will go into any game against any opposition with confidence and belief in our ability. We are excited about the challenge and look forward to playing in front of our home supporters on Saturday.’
The match kicks off at 2:40pm.
Head to head :
2017: Grey College 83 Glenwood 10
2016: Glenwood 10 Grey College 39
2015: Grey College 40 Glenwood 10
2014: Glenwood 12 Grey College 29
2013: Grey College 68 Glenwood 7
2011: Glenwood 6 Grey College 28
2010: Grey College16 Glenwood 9
2009: Glenwood 3 Grey College 62
2008: Grey College 22 Glenwood 14
2007: Glenwood 0 Grey College 81
2006: Grey College 10 Glenwood 14
2005: Glenwood 3 Grey College 58
2002: Grey College 31 Glenwood 9
1986: Glenwood 4 Grey College 74
Photo: Theo Garrun