Maybe it doesn’t look that way on the Team stats table, but 2012 in the Boland was the Year of the Blackies.
Hugenote outperformed everybody’s expectations from their first full-length outing in which they dumped Tygerberg in Parow. Other notable victories included huge away wins against Oudtshoorn (45-27), Worcester Gym (47-28), Klein Nederburg (38-3) and Brackenfell (39-11) and a magnificent tactically-inspired 23-13 home win over HTS Drostdy.
The captaincy of SA Schools lock Gideon Koegelenberg, the creative nous of No.8 Larry Maralack and the calm efficiency of flyhalf Nelius Hauptfleisch were just some of the outstanding features.
What a pity that the appendix to this fairytale had to include a late season crash when the injury demon finally struck their stunning backline. They really didn’t deserve defeats at the hands of Charlie Hofmeyr and Strand, while local rivals Boland Landbou took advantage of a side in need of a breather and Paarl Gym put them to the sword when the Blackies were still on a high after Interschools.
Overberg, the pride of Caledon, lived up to the expectations many had voiced about them. Not only did Nico Burger’s troops manage to beat all but two opponents (the considerably larger Bellville High and Punt), but they also produced the school’s first SA Schools cap in massively influential eighthman François Esterhuyzen.
The input of leading scorers Jacquin Marthinus (123 points) and Rudi September (13 breathtaking tries) dispels any thoughts of this being a one-man show. Their stingy defence conceded only 17 five-pointers, an achievement unmatched by only a few 1st XVs in the entire province, all of whom played fewer games.
Dirkie Uys are no strangers to readers of this site so there’s no need to repeat all the hype.
They might not play against as many or as large schools as everyone else, but, although they punch way above their weight virtually every week, even they must have been gobsmacked when they started off with scintillating wins over Tygerberg and Pearson of Port Elizabeth at Tony Stoops Rugby Festival 2012
Devastating tackling by tiny Jayson Marcus, ruthless finishing by the backline, great option-taking by halfbacks Flippie Jacobs and Du Toit Maree and a solid loose trio starring Pierre du Preez and Craig Mentoor laid the foundation for their crushing 51-3 annihilation of EP’s Ndzondelelo in the Burger Small Schools final in George recently.
Just rewards for a delightful bunch of lads.
Frankly, the only other notable record was that of Augsburg Gym, although their Clanwilliam fixtures do sometimes seem to be dogged by controversy.
Their season took on an ominous look only at the end, when they whipped Jan van Riebeeck 36-10 in Cape Town, mauled Hottentots Holland 55-18 in the Burger semis in Paarl and then took the trophy by beating a Nico Malan side that boasted an SA Schools wing 22-20 at Outeniqua.
The fulcrum of the side was indisputably scrumhalf Corné Sharp, but other players to put their hands up include fullback Emile Baron, No.8 Marius Louw and centre Kenneth ”Beaver” de Kock.
New Orleans, Langeberg, Bergrivier and Bonnievale all gave good account of themselves, but played too few games by which to judge them fairly.
Perhaps one should single out one shining star in each of these teams. Flank Hilroy Baadjies (New Orleans), flyhalf Collin Willemse (Langeberg) and lock Jaco Louw (Bonnievale) all received Craven Week recognition, while Bergrivier scrumhalf Phill-Lee George would arguably be the best of the four.
Two big sides to fall on hard times were Swartland and Schoonspruit, both from Malmesbury.
The Rockies’ 60% success ratio belies a team that needed – and sadly never really found – inspiration at halfback. Then, just when it looked like their newly-acquired pivot started looking the part, he produced a shocker against Tygerberg.
Fair enough, storming front-ranker Esteban Janse van Rensburg, the smiling assassin, did dot down 16 times (which was twice as many as flank and captain Josef Burger and wing Alvin Felix) and they did beat Schoonspruit in the local showdown, but that wasn’t enough to set the pulses racing.
Schoonspruit have a well-established tradition of playing expansive attacking rugby, thanks largely to imaginative backs.
Unfortunately the crew of 2012 was generally lacking in backs, with or without imagination and, when their flyhalf headed off to Swartland, necessitating playmaker centre Andy Huysamen’s shift to fill the vacancy, what little flair was there died out as the supply line to outside centre Anzo Stubbs and wing Valentino Wellman was severed. That their player of the year was a forward, tireless No.8 Ludio Williams, says it all.
The match which best defines their season was a home defeat to Porterville in which they looked set to win only to give away a raft of penalties and, in the process and a liberal amount of extra time, the game.
Their 20-17 loss to Weston at the School of Excellence Day might have been close, but one had the impression that not even they thought that they deserved to win.
Porterville and Labori both enjoyed unexpectedly successful campaigns.
In the case of the former this was all the more notable given the school’s outstanding achievements in 2011, as it is very unusual for the smaller rural schools to remain extremely competitive in consecutive seasons.
Astutely led by No.8 James Coldrey, the Bulle banked extensively on the experience of full back Garth Hendricks, whose 13 tries constitute just short of half of their total return, and the accurate goalkicking of centre WG Odendaal, the last-minute hero of the Schoonspruit game.
By contrast, equally-modest Labori went on their merry, if unspectacular, way by following the sensible route of playing against schools of a similar size.
Several players contributed to their try tally, Enrico Adams leading the way with nine touchdowns. The spark injected by scrumhalf Killian von Mollendorff kept the hungry backs well supplied.
Worcester Gym’s gruelling Namibia trek bore fruit early on when they held Drostdy 15-15 at Trappespark, which ultimately made them the only side not to lose there in 2012.
Their battle-hardened midfield combination of 10 Schalk Hugo (160 points), 12 Courtney Cupido and 13 Shandro Issel (seven and six tries respectively) ensured that the attack kept its shape, helping them overpower strong opposition such as Hermanus (38-28) and Charlie Hofmeyr (34-14).
Despite being robbed of centre Marquit September, Langenhoven High simply regrouped and went about their business, thanks to all-round hard work. Up front their captain and No.8 TC Petersen (ten tries), lock André van Staden (nine) and prop Jannes Bosman (seven) led the Dasse’s tryline assault along with full back Wentzel October (also nine), while flyhalf Heinrich Albertyn’s 90 points added the icing to the cake.
Vredendal started with a bang at Oakdale, but couldn’t maintain the momentum, resulting in a series of setbacks towards the tail end. Losing 11-28 to Windhoek High, even without the latter’s Craven Week contingent, might be acceptable, but a 10-34 thumping at Charlie Hofmeyr and a jaw-dropping 11-13 derby defeat at hapless Calvinia must have been enough to dampen even the hardiest spirits.
Interschools rivals Robertson and Charlie Hofmeyr finished neck-and-neck in the season charts, their showdown going to the visiting Charlies 31-12.
Although they don’t know the meaning of the expression “a poor season”, the Red Wine Farmers started very poorly against Swartland (12-47) and DF Malan (7-20) before regaining their equilibrium.
The much-anticipated Cleavon Michaels-led try bonanza never materialized and it was thanks largely to the efforts of centre Esteban van der Merwe that they kept on an even keel, at least maintaining some pride by seeing off neighbours Swellendam 48-13.
Apart from getting spanked 63-10 by the Donkeys and 34-14 by the Bosvarke, both in Worcester, Charlie Hofmeyr ended in positive territory, to use a stock market term, thanks to an impressive home record, the highlight of which was arguably the 42-12 destruction of Piketberg.
Despite their fielding two Craven Week caps, left wing Luwandré Visagie and Cobus Geldenhuys, the bulk of their scoring actually came from the rest of the backline, spearheaded by scrummie Marco Manus and outside centre Damian Vermeulen, both of whom touched down ten times.
Not one of Montana, Montagu, Hawston and Hermanus can complain about their fortunes. Each of these teams is very much a work in progress with the dedicated coaching going on sure to reap its reward soon.
Hawston did not fire quite like they had in 2011 with a similar team and, were it not for Roland Swarts’ 125 points, the elusiveness of centre Arno Fortuin and left wing Logan Niemand, who bagged a healthy 21 tries between them, and a last-gasp 24-22 Classic Clash victory over Hermanus, this would be a year best forgotten.
Montana deserve mention for one interesting fact. They recorded two victories on one schoolday afternoon in May, this some 24 hours after the birth of coach Jacques Steyn’s first child! That piece of trivia apart, it was Lourenco Pieterse’s reliable boot (82 points) that lent them much-needed stability.
Stellenbosch left the starting blocks like a bat out of the hot place with three convincing victories at Oakdale, but proved their own worst enemies with a very average mid-season run, in which defeats to Dirkie Uys, Hermanus and less-than-imposing Groendal and Paulus Joubert put paid to heady hopes..
Scrumhalf Rian van Zyl was the motive force behind the team’s early surge, his 82 points from the tee being supplemented by fifteen imperious tries.
The remaining sides – Piketberg, Swellendam, Bredasdorp, Hopefield, Emil Weder and Vredenburg – all made it to the party, but either forgot to bring presents or found the munchies had already been eaten.
Piketberg (usually competitive) and Swellendam (still recovering from going unbeaten in 2010) can be forgiven their temporary lapses of season, while the others are perennial strugglers for whom the best consolation can be the lesson presented by the last-mentioned of their number.
After enjoying scant success over the past few seasons, Vredenburg kicked off the year with two wins and a draw at Tony Stoops Rugby Festival 2012, pottered along happily and then finished in a blaze of brilliance, crushing Monument Park 37-17 at Interschools.
You’re only as good as your last game, so they must be good!
By Tony Stoops