Sat, 10 Apr 2004 00:00
Large 2507 5534 0 0 2042053

Selborne College of East London is one of South Africa's great schools and its greatness includes its rugby.

School profile

Selborne College of East London is one of South Africa's great schools and its greatness includes its rugby.

East London is a harbour on South Africa's only navigable river - the Buffalo.  It was first used as a harbour to bring in British troops for the War of the Axe in the Border Wars of the 19th century.  The troops' arrival resulted in a settlement called Port Rex, a name changed in 1847 to East London, at the same time as the Cape Town suburb now called Athlone was called West London.

German settlers arrived after 1858, the railway arrived and the harbour grew, exporting above all wool.  A motor industry developed there as well.

A school was first founded in the area in 1856 for the children of British immigrants into British Caffraria, the West Bank School which still exists, and later church-related schools developed, on the Anglo-German Mission School, founded in 1866 and then called the Panmure Public School. In 1872 Heinrich Cluver of the Lutheran Church, re-opened the Panmure Public School in an old chapel on the corner of Fleet and Station Street and brought Pastor Heinrich Muller from Natal to run the school, which he did for 26 years.  An amalgamation saw the school become the East London Public School in 1881 and then Selborne College, so named by a new principal, Dr Rattray, for the second Earl of Selborne and bearing his coat of arms and motto - Palma Virtuti.  It takes 1 January 1872 as its foundation date.  The Earl of Selborne had been under secretary for the colonies from 1885 to 1900 and then the governor of the old Boer Republics from the end of the South African War till the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. In 1923 Dr Rattray also moved the school to its present premises on the hill near the sea.

Dr Rattray was one of the founders of the East London museum which borders on the 1st XV rugby field at Selborne and houses the famous coelacanth found down at the harbour by Miss Courtney Latimer, wheeled back in her wheelbarrow and made famous by JLB Smith.

School Information

Name of school: Selborne College   
Motto of school: Palma virtuti (Virtue has its reward)  
Date of foundation: 1 January 1872
School address: Dawson Road, East London, 5201 

The School Crest

Shield Silver
· shield thereon two bars with three trefoils of silver, in chief of shield a black greyhound with a collar of gold.
· On a green mound sitting a black greyhound with collar of gold, on its shoulder a silver trefoil.
On either side a black greyhound, with a golden collar, a silver trefoil on shoulder.

Rugby at Selborne

Selborne began playing rugby in 1892 when it first met Dale College of King William's Town, still an enthusiastic fixture.  As with most schools in South Africa, early rugby opponents were men's teams and in the early days soccer had a hold till rugby finally took over in 1912.  Now Selborne plays teams all over South Africa, one of the country's best-known schools, not only for its strength but also for the expansive game it plays and its spirit of sportsmanship.

In 1926 Selborne first played Grey High, which is still a big inter-school day each year when the two schools get together for all manner of sporting and cultural activities.

In 1992 Selborne hosted a festival which included teams from England and Zimbabwe.  In 1992 Selborne toured the UK. In 2002 a nationwide rugby competition for schools was introduced by Media24 and Selborne became the first winners when they beat Paarl Gim 11-10 in the final.

Traditional Rivals

The oldest rival is Dale College of nearby King William's Town, but there are also big matches with Grey High in Port Elizabeth, Queen's College in Queenstown and Grey College in Bloemfontein.

Famous Old Boys

The following Old Boys have played for South Africa - Bernard Duffy, Innes Froneman, André de Wet, Ray Carlson, the Andrews cousins, Keith and Mark, André Vos and Brent Russell.

Bernard Duffy swam and played waterpolo for Border and was later the president of the Border Rugby Union.  His brother Aubrey also played for Border.

The Andrews family from up in the magnificent foothills of the Drakensberg have had a big impact on Selborne rugby.  Keith's father, Kenny, captained Selborne in 1953, Keith in 1981.  Kenny's brother Fish, played for Selborne and had three sons who captained the college - Gary in 1981, Murray in 1983 and Mark in 1990. Mark was at one stage South Africa's most capped Springbok of all time.