Graeme boys in British exchange

Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:00
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A good deed will come full circle next month when two Graeme College pupils wing their way to Britain next month to take part in a rugby exchange programme.

A good deed will come full circle next month when two Graeme College pupils wing their way to Britain next month to take part in a rugby exchange programme, thanks, in part, to generous sponsorship from a former pupil.

First-team players Siyakubongo Nzuzo and Gordon-Wayne Plaatjes, both in Grade 11, are this year's delegates to spend time at Kirkham Grammar School, in Lancashire, attending classes and playing for the school's team.

The Graeme/Kirkham exchange programme was launched during Kirkham's South African tour in July 2007 by Graeme first-team rugby coach Pierre Jacobs and Kirkham head of rugby and first team coach, Aled Trenhaile.

Plaatjes's trip and stay is being funded by Old Graemian, Ian Bodill, who matriculated from Graeme in 1973. Bodill was a member of Graeme's first rugby tour, to Italy and it was an old boy who paid his way. Bodill, who currently lives in Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, Australia, approached his old school and said he was now in a position to “pay back” and wanted to fund Plaatjes on his tour.

Nzuzo's trip will be funded by the Makana Municipality executive mayor's office, together with the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture.

Jacobs said: “From local government that is brilliant to give a pupil the opportunity to go overseas."

The pair leaves for Britain on 4 November and will return on 16 December.

Both boys and their coach, Jacobs, expressed gratitude to their sponsors, with Plaatjes describing the trip as an “awesome opportunity”.

Graeme headmaster, Peter Reed, a provincial scrumhalf in his day, said having the British pupils come here and the Graeme pupils spending time in Britain was invaluable, and an opportunity many pupils don't get.

While it's expected that Nzuzo and Plaatjes will play for the Kirkham first team, they will need to earn their spot.

Nzuzo said he would play his best to make sure he was picked for first-team matches, adding that the wet weather experienced in Britain at this time of the year is the weather he likes to play in.

Plaatjes, on the other hand, prefers dry conditions, his forte being a running style of rugby. He says he'll take his style of rugby to Kirkham. Both hope to learn new techniques, which they will share with their first team next year.

Jacobs explained that while the players were picked according to performance, the main selection depends on the players needed by Kirkham that year.

The two will leave in the middle of their exams, but will complete the others once they reach Kirkham, on the same days the exams are written at Graeme.

The pair can expect to play between four and six first-team matches, depending on the weather. There the weather can be so severe that matches are sometimes cancelled.

Graemian Aviwe Matyumza is currently at the Kirkham school and will return to write his final exams. Kirkham is so impressed with his playing that they will fly him back to Britain after his final exam in mid November, to return shortly before Christmas

By Stephen Penney Sports Editor, Grocott's Mail