Mon, 19 Apr 2004 00:00
We profile Union High School of Graaff-Reinet.
School profile

We profile Union High School of Graaff-Reinet.

They call lovely Graaff-Reinet with its wide streets, gracious trees, bright gardens and settled houses the Athens of the Karroo and the Jewel of the Karroo. It is a lovely place, the fourth oldest town in South Africa.

It is named for the Dutch governor of the Cape, Van der Graaff and his wife Reinet. At one stage it was a Boer republic as it rebelled against Britain. That did not last long.

Ostrich feathers made it wealthy though now the sheep has taken over from the desert bird.

In 1918, not long after the Union of South Africa was founded, petitioned to have an English-medium school in the midlands.

The residents guaranteed money and the school started in the Anglican Church Hall in Somerset Street. In 1921 the school moved to new premises. Grown bigger, it moved again in 1926. In 1963, now with over 600 pupils, the schools moved to its present spacious site.

School information

Name: Union High School
Motto: Veritas Fidelitas Iustitia (Truth Fidelity Justice)
Numbers: 600 (180 boys and 185 girls are boarders)
Address: Union High School, Plasket Street, Graaff-Reinet.

Rugby at the School

Union High started playing rugby almost from its inception.  Its first recorded match was against Aberdeen in 1922.  That year it also played against its neighbours Volkskool for the first time.

Each year at Easter time the school runs a tournament which attracts many schools to Graaff-Reinet.


Lobbie Laubscher coached from 1924 to 1934.

The best-known rugby coach at the school was James Munnik, whose nickname was Puggy, an Eastern Province player. He coached at Union High from 1950 to 1973.

Old Boys

Chum Ochse, the great Springbok wing of the Fifties, was an old boy. He later taught and coached at Paarl Boys’ High.

Another Old Boy Springbok was Colin Kroon, the hooker against the Lions in 1955.

Peter Booysen became the President of the Natal Rugby Union and an executive member of the South African Rugby Board. He was also the vice-principal of Natal University.

St Elmo Wilken played five provinces – Eastern Province, Northern Transvaal, Griquas and Free State – and was at the 1949 Springbok trials.

Fred Rubidge, Tom Spence, Henning Smit and Doom Nel were also Springbok trialists.

Chumani Booi played Super 12 rugby in 2004. Gordon Gilfillan played lock for SA Under-19 in 2003.


Union High’s greatest rivals are the Volkskool. It is always a festive occasion of drama. There are cheerleaders and bands and often dramatic incidents.

Other matches happen. This match is a happening.