The Premier Interschools journey takes us to Pietermaritzburg this coming weekend where Maritzburg College will host King Edward VII from Johannesburg at Goldstones on Saturday 12 August 2017.
This year the two schools are playing each other twice on a home and away basis. KES was the victor in the earlier match in May, but College will want to avenge that loss on their beloved Goldstones field. The home team will have their work cut out as this KES team boasts a host of Lions provincial players that was so successful during the Craven Week tournament at St Stithians College during the school holidays. KES could only record one win in the last 5 encounters, with College winning two and two matches ending in a draw.
Results last 5 games:
College is also not having one of their best seasons and will be looking for redemption against a very strong KES side. They have lost their last 4 matches and with their last match of the season coming up at Goldstones, losing is not an option.
They will rely heavily on their two provincial players, Ntuthuko Mchunu and Njabulo Mjara, to steady the ship as their other provincial player, hooker Fezikuhle (Fudge) Mbatha, will be doing duty for SA Schools down in Cape Town.
College’s Season so far:
|2017/04/22||Pretoria Boys High||36||24|
|2017/05/06||King Edward VII||20||39|
|2017/05/20||Durban High School||31||48|
|2017/08/05||Pretoria Boys High||10||17|
KES on the other hand is having a stellar season and only lost one game so far against the no. 2 ranked Monument from Krugersdorp. Their team’s success was reflected in the fact that no less than 7 players were picked for the Lions provincial team to go to Craven Week. Prop Keagan Glade, captain and 8th man Travis Gordon, flyhalf Marc Morrison, centres Yanga Hlalu and Leon Mpeku, fullback Kennedy Mpeku and wing Tyler Hayward were all part of the victorious Lions Craven Week team. To top it off, 4 of them made SA Schools in Glade, Gordon, Hlalu and Kennedy Mpeku.
They will unfortunately also miss out on the College encounter as they will be representing South Africa down in Cape Town.
KES’ season so far:
|2017/03/25||Pretoria Boys High||31||0|
|2017/03/29||St Alban’s College||33||17|
|2017/04/13||Wynberg Boys’ High||42||17|
|2017/04/15||Rondebosch Boys’ High||25||17|
|2017/05/20||St Stithians College||71||17|
|2017/06/10||St John’s College||57||19|
|2017/07/29||Pretoria Boys High||38||24|
Rugby at Maritzburg College
Maritzburg College is traditionally the dominant school rugby force in KwaZulu-Natal. The first recorded rugby match in the province of Natal took place in the Market Square of Pietermaritzburg in October 1870. The contestants were Maritzburg College (then known as Pietermaritzburg High School) and Hermansburg School. Played on a sun-baked, wheel-rutted, gravel surface, the contest lasted for more than three hours and ended in a victory for the High School, by two goals to nil.
The arrival of James Mervyn (Skonk) Nicholson, as a master at Maritzburg College, signalled a revival in the school’s rugby fortunes. From 1948 he coached the First XV for 35 consecutive seasons, until 1982. In 1949 the First XV was unbeaten, as were ten other teams of his, while a further thirteen First XVs during that period lost only one match each.
The legendary JM (Skonk) Nicholson
In the 1950s and early 1960s his teams were particularly successful, at one stage losing only five matches in eleven years!
Skonk’s successors were scarcely less successful. The 1985, 1988 and 1995 teams were unbeaten and four other First XVs lost only one match. Since the turn of the new century, College has often found it difficult to match those statistics. The reasons for this are many: the increasing importance placed on sporting success by schools; the greater spread of talent, often owing to lucrative bursaries offered to promising players; the erosion of the rural core of College’s boarders; and the greatly strengthened fixture list.
The First XV’s record, however, represents only a fraction of the rugby played at Maritzburg College. Every weekend, as many as thirty teams take to the field, playing the game with fierce enthusiasm and pride. The school’s rugby success is therefore built on a very firm and broad foundation.
For many years, Maritzburg College’s rugby has been characterised by the rugged qualities and outstanding support work of its forwards, the hard running and punishing tackling of its backs and an eagerness to move the ball at every reasonable opportunity. Most notably, however, is the fierce determination and spirit typifying College teams and imbuing them with an indomitable will to win.
Maritzburg College’s superbly consistent record, great depth of talent and enviable reputation for a hard but sporting approach to the game have made it, historically, the premier rugby school in KwaZulu-Natal. No one would seriously dispute College’s right to that title.
List of College Springboks
|432||Andy van der Watt|
In addition, several College Old Boys have represented other countries: Hubert Freakes and Geoff Appleford (England), Juan Grobler and Chad Erskine (United States), Brenton Catterall (Zimbabwe), Wim Visser (Italy), Frank Goedeke (Germany) and Andrew Binikos (Cyprus).
Rugby at KES
Shortly after Desmond Davis, an Association Football enthusiast, retired in March 1931, plans were laid by his successor and “father” of all sport at King Edward, “Robbie” Robinson to start rugby at the School in the 1932 season. To this end he enlisted the help of a “god-father” in the person of Eric F.K. Tucker. He persuaded the Transvaal Rugby Union to level and grass an ugly dusty slope on the School grounds to transform it into two rugby fields to be available for the 1932 season.
On 27 April 1932 the School’s fields were opened when the Chairman of the Governing Body, and ex-Matie, H.J. Hofmeyr kicked off the first ball. On that occasion Frank Robinson expressed the wish that King Edward boys would repay the Transvaal Rugby Union in due course by reproducing in senior rugby, what they had learned while at School.
As early as 1931 the School rugby colours had been decided for the 1st XV. Cardinal red jerseys with white collars and a badge and white pants and red and white ringed socks. The rest of the School were to play in red white and green ringed jerseys with dark blue pants and black stockings with red and white tops. And so it has continued to this day with the obvious change to the socks and to white pants for the whole School. It was only in 1935 that the badge was incorporated.
Bruce Macdonald who left the School in 1939 was selected for Transvaal and is the first ex-K.E.S. boy to have played in a Currie Cup final in 1947. The 1956 side produced two provincial players via. A. Miller and J. Faber, while A.H. Bladen was a member of the 1961 side. He was eventually selected for the Junior Springboks. Norman Picker’s (later a Transvaal player) 1968 side boasted a 100% record after 17 games played. A few other names from past decades that played representative rugby are: L. Barnard, G. Lawless, E. van der Merwe, R. Keil, S. Marot and D. Malherbe
List of KES Springboks
Henry Martin “Skaap” Forrest was the first old boy to represent the Boks. He played 7 tour matches on the 1931-32 tour to the British Isles and Ireland. He represented Transvaal before making his Springbok debut in 1931 (aged 23) against Swansea. The School has memorabilia kindly donated by Mr Forrest on display in the School Museum. He is recorded as Bok 229 by SARU. Interestingly enough Henry Forrest played no rugby at School, only 2nd team soccer (rugby only started at the school in 1931) and only took up the game at Wits Rugby Club. In his first season (1929) he was selected for Transvaal and two years later became a Springbok Tourist.
The school then had a lengthy wait before “Big Joe” made it onto the Bok roll of honour. Bok 719 is Joe van Niekerk. Big Joe played 52 tests in all and was SA Rugby Player of the Year (2002). The huge, athletic loose forward also captained South Africa at U21 level. Joe van Niekerk represented the Golden Lions (2001-2002 & 2008), Western Province (2003-2007) and capped his career off at Toulon (from 2009 to 2013). As captain of Toulon, he put in consistently strong performances, earning the accolade as the best player in the French Top 14 in 2009.
Bryan Gary Habana became Bok 766. More impressively he became only the 4th Bok in history to earn more than 100 caps! Interestingly Bryan also ended up at Toulon, France (since 2013). He previously represented Western Province (2010-2013), the Blue Bulls (2005-2009) and the Golden Lions (2004).
Malcom Marx became their 4th Springbok from the school when he was picked for the South African team to play in the Rugby Championship in 2016.
The game will be broadcast live on Saturday 12 August on SuperSport Ten from 14:10 (kick-off at 14:15)