Rugby: Grey High Festival

Rugby grey high festival
Likhona Sodlaka, right, and Jon Hobson lead out the Grey High first team for their clash at the weekend against Wynberg in Cape Town, which ended in a 10-10 draw. Both players will be in action at the annual Grey High Rugby Festival in Gqeberha on May 2 and 4.

April 25, 2024

Tough challenge as Grey defend proud festival record

The Grey High first rugby team have an exceptionally proud record at their own tournament, but they know that will come under intense scrutiny against two combative rivals next week.

The annual Grey High Rugby Festival takes place on May 2 and 4 and will draw more than 2000 players, coaches and officials to Gqeberha for another celebration of schoolboy rugby.

In addition, the Hibbert Shield hockey tournament at the Rectory Astro will take place simultaneously, running from Wednesday to Saturday.

Normally, the Grey Festival sees the host team using it as a platform to fine-tune their preparations for the rugby season ahead, but this year they have already played seven games, most recently recording a creditable 10-10 draw with the highly rated Wynberg team in Cape Town.

Coach Matt King says they will be looking to build on those performances as they look forward to some games in front of home supporters.

“The Festival ordinarily serves as an opportunity for our boys to build momentum at home after travelling for their other annual Easter festival commitments,” King said.

“This year, however, the Festival will be our eighth and ninth match out of 14 fixtures and so a much more polished performance will be expected of our boys.

“As only the second and third home games of the season, this will be a great opportunity for us to put smiles on the faces of the Grey community, a responsibility we do not take lightly.”

Grey will be up against St John’s College of Johannesburg in the final match on Thursday and Makhanda rivals Graeme College in the climax to the festival on Saturday.

King is under no illusions that they will have a target on their backs next week.

“St John’s have developed a really strong rugby programme under the guidance of South African Schools coach and director of rugby Katleho Lynch,” he said.

“They are a force to be reckoned with this year and after their 17-17 draw against a really strong Kingswood team, we are expecting a Test match-like battle.

“Graeme, on their other hand, are old rivals who are always up for the fight.

“It would be remiss of me not to mention that they beat Grey in 2023 (Graeme’s first win over the Gqeberha school since 1974) and are considered favourites going into the match. We will be aiming to put up a better performance this time.”

He added that they would be looking to play with a bit more freedom next week after an intense start to the season, which involved several away games.

“Having been on the road for the first six games of our season we have had to manage risk and play a brand of rugby which is probably perceived as more professional than the conventional schoolboy rugby style of play,” King said.

“I hope that, if anything, the festival gets us scoring some exciting tries!”

He said the festivals, both rugby and hockey, played a big part in Grey High’s annual sporting calendar.

“We see it as a wonderful opportunity to showcase all our school has to offer and provide a platform for schools to compete against opposition they would not normally get the chance to play against in the regular season.

“It is important that schools, who are able to, choose to take on this responsibility of hosting this kind of festival as a mechanism to share ideas, foster relationships and help build camaraderie among diverse groups of people from across the country.”

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The first team rugby fixtures are:

Thursday, May 2

Kolisi Field

09.10: Hudson Park v Brandwag; 10.25: Westville v Durbanville; 11.45: St Andrew’s College v Parktown; 12.55: Queen’s College v St Stithians; 14.05: Graeme v Jeppe; 15.25: Grey High v St John’s

Pollock Oval

12.55: Ithembelihle v St Charles College; 14.05: Mali Foundation XV v Muir

Saturday, May 4

Kolisi Field

09.10: Hudson Park v St Charles College; 10.25: St Stithians v Brandwag; 11.45: St Andrew’s College v Jeppe; 12.55: Queen’s v Durbanville; 14.05: Dale v Westville; 15.25: Grey High v Graeme

Pollock Oval

10.25: Ithembelihle v Parktown; 14.05: Muir v St John’s

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Neale Emslie

Cell: 071 850 0865

Email: [email protected]

On behalf of: Grey High School