HOER LANDBOUSKOOL OAKDALE
Oakdale of Riversdale is one of South Africa's top rugby schools, situated in the green and beautiful South Western Districts, where the Garden Route gets going.
It is an old town, dating back to the Hessequa Khoi Khoi who settled there some 2 000 years ago. (The area which includes Heidelberg, Slangrivier, Riversdale, Albertinia, Gouritz and Stillbaai is now known as Hessequa.) Their name means People if the Trees but they were cattle farmers with their fat-tailed sheep and long-horned cattle, and they first had contact with the farmers from the Cape in 1667 when Hieronymous Crüse came to search for cattle. Twenty years later Izak Schryver, also looking to barter cattle, made fiends with Goukou of the Hessequa, and more and more cattle posts were established in the Overberg as it pushed east. Farmers settled and a church was needed. In 1837 the farm Doornkraal was bought for a church and around it a town grew.
The congregation asked the civil commissioner of Swellendam for permission to use his name. Sir Harry Rivers agreed. First it was to be called Riversville but he suggested Riversdale. On 30 August 1838 it was proclaimed a town. In 1849 it became a municipality.
It remains a small town, gentle and faithful to its farming and church origins - and it has schools.
The best known is the agricultural school, Oakdale - Hoër Landbouskool Oakdale, just on the fringes of the town.
The school was founded in 1928, just three years after electricity reached the town. It is not a big school, having just some 350 pupils, but they are all boarders and learner farmers. As such they enjoy the physical side of life.
The school's motto is Hand en Hoof (Hand and Head). They seek to have "Proud learners anchored in discipline and tradition".
Part of that physicality expresses itself in rugby. The school runs 16 teams, which means that 70% are actually playing rugby. The school's biggest problem is getting enough matches for their teams.
They have two big farming derbies - one against Marlow Landbou of Cradock and one against Boland Landbou of Agter-Paarl, their Interschools match. Then the teams turn out with great enthusiasm.
Many Oakdale boys have been to Craven Week. The following have been chosen for South African Schools: SA Schools: Henk Steenkamp, Johan Muller, Kobus Caldo, Pedrie Wannenburg, Callie Wannenburg, Meyer Bosman, Jan-Hendrik Joubert, Wessel Jooste and Bertus Mulder.
Current Springboks who are from Oakdale are Johan Muller, Pedrie Wannenburg and Meyer Bosman. Hein du Toit was a Junior Springbok.