Fri, 16 Apr 2004 00:00
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We profile Grey College of Bloemfontein

Profile of a school

We profile Grey College of Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein is a city with a fascinating history, for nearly fifty years the capital of a free republic.

It started with a spring of water where Rudolph Marthinus Brits settled. He had driven his flocks and herds up from Swellendam in the 1820s in search of room and freedom from the British. The farm was Bloemfontein, now a city, at a place which the Sotho called Mangaung, the place of the leopard.

It became the capital of Britain’s Orange River Sovereignty and them from 1854 to 1902 the capital of the Republic of the Orange Free State.

After the Union of South Africa was formed, it became the judicial capital but still bears many of the marks of its republican days, fop example the old raadsaals and the Vrouemonument to women and children who died in concentration camps.

Grey College in west Bloemfontein is the oldest school north of the Orange River.  In 1855 Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape, paid a visit to the Republic of the Orange Free State and donated an amount of money for the establishment of an institution for higher education.  The school was opened on 17 January 1859, one of the oldest in South Africa.  The school, out of which the University of the Orange Free State grew, splitting from the school in 1912, has gone from strength to strength under a succession of headmasters – first Dr Andrew Murray, Dr Johannes Brill, who believed in the value of sport, James Lyle, Jock Meiring, JMB Faure, AK Volsteedt, JL Cronjé, Dr MG Heyns and, since 1993, Johan Volsteedt, son of AK Volsteedt.

In 1950 the primary and high schools sections split.  Since then the principals of the primary school have been CCF Bornman, Steve Strydom, Chris Bester and Lindsay Mould.

From the start, Grey College developed as a parallel medium school, offering classes in English and Afrikaans, depending upon the pupil’s needs. Afrikaans is the main medium of instruction.

It is a school rich in tradition with a powerful old boys’ organisation.

School song

Aan Bloemfontein se Westekant,
Doe oudste in Oranjeland,
Staan ons Grey-kollege heg en sterk,
Beroemd vir spel en goeie werk.
Standvastig soos ons voorgeslag –
In ons verlede lê ons krag –
Streef ons karaktervas en trou
Na eenheid wat ‘n nasie bou


Ons driekleur-vaandel wapper fier,
Ons bou ‘n eenheidstoekoms hier,
Onsmikpunt bly wat hoogste is,
Ons wagwoord immer STABILIS.


Name of school:  Grey College Secondary School
Motto of school:  Stabilis (Steadfast)
Date of foundation: 1856
School address:  PO Box 13001, Brandhof.  9324

Rugby History

Football was first played against another school in June 1881 – against St Andrew’s, the Anglican school in the Bloemfontein.  At that time it was a version of the Winchester Game, as introduced to South Africa by Bishops in Cape Town.  The game really took off in the 1890s when Grey College played against men’s teams in the Orange Free State.  In 1896 Grey College became the second winners of the OFS Grand Challenge Cup.

In recent years Grey College has had many successful teams.  Between 1986 and 1990 it played 80 matches and went unbeaten.  Many of its players have been to Craven Week, more than players from any other school.  In 1977 alone the whole of the Grey 1st XV was chosen for the Free State side.  It has also had more players in the South African Schools side than any other school – six in 1981 alone.  And many, many players have played for South Africa.

It would be an unusual year if Grey were not ranked the top rugby school in South Africa.

In 2005 Grey celebrated its 150th birthday with a great rugby festival, amongst other celebrations.

War cry

Guske Malaya waa
Guske Malaya gee
Who are, who are, who are we?
We are, we are GCB.
We lead at work, we lead at play.
We are Grey, Grey, Grey College!

Famous players

The following Grey College old boys have played for South Africa, starting with Herman van Broekhuisen in 1896:

Herman van Broekhuisen, Boet McHardy, the first Springbok to score a hat-trick of tries in a test, Sarel Strauss, Henry Martin, Louis Babrow, Piet de Wet, Popeye Strydom, Gert Cilliers, John Wessels, Johan Spies, Morné du Plessis (captain), Dawie Snyman and his brother Jackie, Theuns Stofberg (captain), Robbie Blair, Jaco Reinach, Helgard Müller and his brother Pieter, Andries Truscott, Johan Steyger, Heinrich Fuls, Ruben Kruger, Ollie le Roux, Naka Drotské, Werner Swanepoel, CJ van der Linde.


The following old boys refereed international matches:  Reg Stanton, Att Horak, Steve Strydom, who was also president of the OFS Rugby Union, Justus Moolman and Gerrit Coetzer.


The coaches who set Grey on its rugby way were EJ Spurway and D Pyne-Mercier.  Then came Tom Dixon in 1917 who taught at Grey till 1961.  He was followed by HJ van Aarde, AK Volsteedt, who became principal of Grey and the president of the OFS Rugby Union, Stoney Steenkamp, who also coached SA Schools, Jos Labuschagne and Dries van der Wal.

Traditional matches

Grey College plays many of its matches outside of the Free State while its second team, the Cherries, plays against many local schools.  The first team plays big matches against schools such as Queen’s College, Dale, Selborne, Grey High in Port Elizabeth, Paul Roos, Paarl Boys’ High, Maritzburg College and Affies.