After a great 2016 season of schoolboy rugby it is hard to imagine that it can get any better. The 2017 season is already in motion with some warm-up games being played all over the country and the Tuks series already in motion in the North Vaal region. The various festivals over Easter weekend are usually seen as the official kick-off where everything starts to get serious.
Premier Interschools is again featuring some of the top schoolboy teams in the country in 12 matches stretching from the 25th March to the 26th August. Some of the oldest and fiercest rivalries will be on show over the span of 23 weeks to come with some 14 different schools on show. There will also be a new edition of an Interschools match on show for the first time this season.
The No 1 schoolboy team for the last two years, Paarl Boys’ High, will again be showcased in three tough encounters against their old traditional rivals Paul Roos Gimnasium, Grey College and of course Paarl Gimnasium. Other teams that will also be showcased is Grey College (2 games), Paul Roos (4 games), Paarl Gim (3 games), Maritzburg College (2 games), Affies (2 games), while the likes of Monument, Grey High of Port Elizabeth, King Edward VII, Glenwood, Boland Landbou, Oakdale Landbou, Bishops and Rondebosch Boys’ High will each also make an appearance in 2017’s Premier Interschools program.
The planned fixtures for the year are as follows:
Paarl Gimnasium vs. Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies) – 25/03/2017: JA Kriel Field Paarl Gimnasium, Paarl @ 12h00
The first game for the season is a real humdinger as two giants from the North and South come together for their first official interschools. This has been a long outstanding fixture as the two schools don’t regularly get to play each other and only get to play the odd occasion at festivals. Since the first time they met in 1967, they have played only 16 games in 50 years against each other with Paarl Gim winning 8, Affies winning 6 and two games ending in a draw. Affies is coming down to Paarl with a big reputation and would like to even out the record. This match is ideal to kick-off the 2017 Premier Interschools season.
Paul Roos vs. Paarl Gimnasium – 22/04/2017: Markotter Field, Paul Roos, Stellenbosch @ 12h30
Next, we move to Stellenbosch for the annual Boland derby between two of the strongest teams in the region for more than 150 years. Paul Roos vs. Paarl Gim brings out the best in both teams and this year will be no different. Paul Roos have had the short end of the stick for the last ten years only winning three and drawing one. Having had one of the best, if not the best pivots in Damian Willemse for the last two years, the home team will have to look at some new blood to bring on the magic for the Maroon Machine. No doubt they will again be a force to reckon with and we are looking forward in uncovering a new gem in their side. Both teams will have had some Easter festival games under the belt with Paarl Gim also participating in the North vs. South festival in Pretoria. Although still early in the season, both teams should have a settled squad and we can expect a great game of rugby from them.
Grey High School vs. Paul Roos Gimnasium – 06/05/2017: Phillips Field, Grey High School, Port Elizabeth @ 14h00
The party moves to Port Elizabeth next when the Maroon Machine takes on “the other Grey” when they meet Grey High in their annual interschools fixture. Paul Roos have won the last two encounters against strong Grey sides and will look to extend the stretch to three in a row. Grey, having had a hat trick against the boys from Stellenbosch in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with a young Curwin Bosch leading the attack, will look to stop the rot and showcase the strength of their rugby.
Grey College vs. Paarl Boys’ High – 13/05/2017: Jock Meiring str., Grey College, Bloemfontein @ 14h00
May sees the much-anticipated match of current trendsetters Paarl Boys’ High against the might of Grey College, the latter for so long being the benchmark of schoolboy rugby in South Africa. This is truly a fixture of great interest to all and could well be the match of the year. The boys from Brug street will travel to Bloem to defend their title as the No 1 team for the last two years while the Grey machine would like to put the record straight and re-establish their rightful place as top dog. They have an unprecedented record of losing the last two matches against the Paarl school and for a proud school like Grey College, another defeat is not acceptable. Grey again has some electrifying backs at their disposal for 2017 and both centres, Rikus Pretorius and Janco van Heyningen, played SA Schools and SA Schools A respectively, while both also represented SA Sevens at u18 level. Boishaai will again rely on a strong pack of forwards to dominate up front with loose forward Francke Horn leading from the front.
Paarl Boys’ High vs. Paul Roos Gimnasium – 27/05/2017: Brug Street, Paarl Boys High, Paarl @ 12h00
Two weeks after the big Bloem bash, we move down to the home ground of Paarl Boys’ High where they take on Boland neighbours Paul Roos Gimnasium. This match is always a highlight of the season as both teams like to run the ball at every opportunity and no quarter inch is given. With their last win in 2014 at home, the boys in maroon would like nothing better than to rub Boishaai’s nose into their own dirt and come away with a victory at Brug Street. This is a must watch match for any schoolboy rugby enthusiast and the last weekend in May could dish up some of the best rugby of the year!
Glenwood vs. Monument – 03/06/2017: Glenwood High, Berea @ 14h00
In June, we move up to KwaZulu-Natal to showcase the strength of local schoolboy rugby up against the might of the North Vaal. Monument from Krugersdorp has the reputation of being one of the hardest teams to play and win against in recent times. They always have a good pack of forwards with skilled backs who can tear up opposition in defense in no time. They are known for producing midfield gems like Brendan Venter and Jacque Fourie. Glenwood, on the other hand, has been dominant in their region for a long time and will be no pushovers on their own turf. They, however, have only one win in the last five years against the Krugersdorp outfit and would look towards their giant lock JJ van der Mescht to provide the fire up front for the Grasshoppers. This game will be hard, tough and uncompromising, exactly like the two teams who will compete on the day.
Bishops vs. Rondebosch Boys’ High – 24/06/2017: Piley Rees Field, Bishops, Cape Town @ 12h00
We end off the first half of the season with one of the oldest derbies in the country between Diocesan College, or as we know it Bishops, against their old foe Rondebosch Boys’ High. These two schools have played an astonishing 191 matches against each other since 1908. The two schools are only about 400m apart and are situated in the shadows of the home of WP rugby, Newlands Stadium. Many a schoolboy from these two schools moved from their home turf over to Newlands to represent WP on the hallowed Newlands ground. The encounter is played with the most beautiful background in South Africa with Table Mountain casting its shadow over the Piley Rees field. It is also fittingly that Bishops plays some of the most beautiful running rugby in the country. Rondebosch Boys’ High also plays an open style of rugby which makes this clash one of the most exciting matches to watch.
Bosch has won 74 games with Bishops dominating the clash, winning their 99th game in the first derby of 2015. A draw is a rare event in a rugby match but these two sides have gone on to share the spoils 18 times. Can Bishops notch up the 100th win in this game?
Affies vs. Maritzburg College – 29/07/2017: Affies, Pretoria @ 14h00
After the break, we focus up north again with the big match between Affies and Maritzburg College. The regular rivalry started in 1996 and they met twice in 2011. This will be the 23rd interschools match between the two schools. Affies have the better record overall and have won 19 of these encounters to Maritzburgs’s three wins. 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 notable, however, is the fierce determination and spirit typifying College teams and imbuing them with an indomitable will to win. Affies is famed and regarded as one of the best rugby schools in South Africa. It has delivered many Springbok players in the past and continues to supply loads of talent in the SA Schools and SA Academy sides. Affies also has many players at all provincial levels of rugby. This will be a match of strength up against spirit, an exciting prospect for any lover of schoolboy rugby.
Paarl Gimnasium vs. Paarl Boys’ High – 05/08/2017: Faure Street Stadium, Paarl @ 16h00
The first weekend in August only means one thing. Paarl Interschools! The biggest schoolboy rugby game in the world and Premier Interschools will be there to bring it to you. It’s the Bloedworse against the Galpille, North vs. South in the small rural town of Paarl. A rivalry that exists for more than 100 years culminates in the main rugby match between the two schools at the Faure Street Stadium at 4:00PM on the Saturday. This will be the 100th time these two teams lock horns for interschools that started with the first match in 1915 when masters, schoolboys and old boys all played together. This was the format up to 1927 after which was decided that the interschools matches should only comprise of schoolboys. The current format as we know today started officially in 1929. The Interschools was only interrupted for one year in 1928 when for some reason lost during time, the derby did not take place. This is the last match for Paarl Boys’ High for the 2017 season. Could it culminate in another unbeaten season for Boishaai? Not if Gim has anything to say about it!
Maritzburg College vs. King Edward VII – 12/08/2017: Goldstones, Maritzburg College, Pieter Maritzburg @ 14h15
King Edward VII school travels down to Pietermaritzburg for their annual derby against Maritzburg College in the latter half of the season. These matches have been close fought affairs in the past and in the last five years there have been two draws, with KES winning once and Maritzburg College winning twice. For most boys, this will be their last schoolboy rugby match and the last time they will don their school jersey with pride. College ends their season with this match and they would like to see the bashers flying high into the air one more time at Goldstones. KES will however be there to spoil the party and we expect another humdinger between these two proud rugby schools.
Paul Roos Gimnasium vs. Grey College – 19/08/2017: Markotter, Paul Roos, Stellenbosch @14h00
Our 11th match for the season cannot get any better than the huge match between Paul Roos and Grey College. This will be the boys in maroon’s 4th appearance in a Premier Interschools match for 2017 and they would love to end off with a bang. Last year in Bloemfontein this clash ended dramatically when Grey College scored in the last seconds to clinch a victory against the odds. Paul Roos will have that loss in the back of their minds when hosting the boys from Bloem and one can expect them not to make the same mistake twice. Their last win against Grey was in 2015 at home and they will be confident that they can repeat that feat in 2017. This is a big derby for the schools with old boys from all over coming down to Stellenbosch and a weekend of rivalry from the gold courses to the pubs ensues. A spectacle of rugby indeed! Will the Stellenbosch faithful see the Jolla Bolla once again on Markotter?
Oakdale Landbou vs. Boland Landbou – 26/08/2017: Oakdale. Riversdale @14h00
The last of the season’s Premier Interschools derbies takes place when Oakdale Landbou from Riversdale hosts fellow agricultural school Boland Landbou from Paarl for their annual interschools. The two schools have been playing each other on yearly basis since 1992 and this year they will meet for the 25th time. The first couple of matches were very close and home ground advantage was a huge factor. It was only in 2001 that an away team won for the first time when Boland Landbou with a certain Derick Hougaard as their pivot, took the honours 15-0 in Riversdale.
For the next 8 years, Boland dominated the interschools and Oakdale could only win once in 2005 with the score line of 8-6 telling the tale of a very hard fought game in Riversdale. The 2009 interschools to be held at Oakdale was abandoned due to flooded fields. The last five years again went according to home ground advantage and this might well continue the trend in 2017. Currently, Boland holds the overall upper hand by winning 15 of the games while Oakdale has won eight with one draw between the two teams.
This game is a fitting end to the 2017 season for Premier Interschools as these two schools both exhibit the same fighting spirit and great traditions.
Premier Interschools is proud to announce new sponsors Toyota Forklift and Agricol who will join Incredible Connection and Gilbert to support this year’s series.