Grey gear up for serious challenge at Rugby Festival
Grey High are preparing themselves for a serious examination when they defend a proud record in their annual Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival, which will be played in Gqeberha on Thursday and Saturday (March 31 and April 2).
The hosts have traditionally shone at this extravaganza of schools rugby, but know they will have a target on their backs when they come up against SACS of Cape Town on Thursday and Johannesburg outfit KES on Saturday.
Both matches on the Philip Field will wind up the day’s programmes and spectators can look forward to exhilarating schoolboy rugby after some early skirmishes as the teams prepare for the new season.
Most recently, when the festival, which is supported by Powerade and Algoa FM, was last held in 2019, Grey defeated KwaZulu-Natal teams Northwood (43-12) and Durban High School (33-14), but coach Bean van Eeden says they will have tough challenges this time.
“They are two really interesting games and we cannot wait to measure ourselves against them,” said Van Eeden, who guided the team to hard-fought 31-27 win over Brandwag in the recent Graeme College Rugby Day in Makhanda.
“Both SACS and KES have a rich rugby history and their boys are always proud to represent their school’s first XV.
“It will definitely make for some mouth-watering action as both schools enjoy a running brand of rugby, without throwing away their quality in the setpieces. So we know that it will be tough, but exciting.”
Van Eeden said his message to the Grey team would be to keep it simple and to focus on the basics of the game.
“That will be our goal and then also to be clinical when certain opportunities arise, whether these are in attack or in defence.
“Our overall focus will be to transform pressure into points, to stay true to our identity as a school and first XV and obviously to enjoy every moment.”
Grey got the better of KES when they met in the final game of the 2018 festival and although new teams will face each other this weekend, that result will probably linger in the memories of the visitors.
KES will warm up for the Grey clash with an interesting encounter against Nico Malan on Thursday.
The Johannesburg side will go into the match as favourites but the Humansdorp boys can never be underestimated. They acquitted themselves well at the Graeme Rugby Day, albeit losing to Hudson Park 21-14.
There are some high-quality contests on the first day’s programme, starting with Framesby against Jeppe at 11.40. This will be followed by Selborne against South Western Districts powerhouse Outeniqua, with the St Andrew’s-Bishops clash acting as the main curtain-raiser at 2pm.
On Saturday, the big Brandwag outfit will be keen to show what they can do against Hudson Park, while Selborne and Framesby are set for a humdinger.
As the main curtain-raiser, Outeniqua against Bishops should be another showdown of epic proportions.
The first team fixtures are:
9.10: Westville v Queen’s; 10.25: Nico Malan v KES; 11.40: Framesby v Jeppe; 12.55: Outeniqua v Selborne; 14.10: St Andrew’s v Bishops; 15.25: Grey High v SACS
9.10: Parktown v Northwood; 10.25: Kingswood v Michaelhouse; 11.40: Woodridge v Andrew Rabie; 12.55: Hudson Park v Despatch; 14.10: Graeme v Rondebosch; 15.25: Muir v Ithembelihle
9.10: Muir v Parktown; 10.25: Jeppe v Rondebosch; 11.40: Brandwag v Hudson Park; 12.55: Selborne v Framesby; 14.10: Outeniqua v Bishops; 15.25: Grey High v KES
9.10: Graeme v Despatch; 10.25: Queen’s v SACS; 11.40: Grey Unicorns v Outeniqua 2nd; 12.55: Nico Malan v Northwood; 14.10: Westville v Kingswood; 15.25: St Andrew’s v Michaelhouse
Photo 1: Grey High captain Ivan Ingram goes on the charge against Brandwag in their clash in the Graeme College Rugby Day in Makhanda earlier this month. Grey will be up against SACS and KES when the Standard Bank Grey High Festival takes place on March 31 and April
Photo 2: Grey High vice-captain Jake Barnard dives over for a try against Brandwag in their clash in the Graeme College Rugby Day in Makhanda earlier this month. Grey will be up against SACS and KES when the Standard Bank Grey High Festival takes place on March 31 and April 2.
Photo credit: Lee-Ann Ingram
Report compiled by Neale Emslie
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On behalf of: Grey High School