2017 Ruggas Team of the Year – Paarl Boishaai

 

No longer satisfied by two seasons unbeaten in the cauldron that is South African schools rugby, the 2017 Paarl Boys’ High 1st XV (18-0-1), rose to the challenge mapped out for them by coach Shaun Erasmus and came within a dicey penalty of ending a third consecutive campaign with a 100% record.

The world high jump record may stand at 2.45 metres, but don’t bet against them raising that bar, too!  Their achievements frankly beggar description, so let their scores do the talking.

When other local schools were gradually preparing themselves for the Easter festivals, the lads from Auret Street headed for New Zealand, where they beat Sacred Heart (24-8), Gisborne (73-3) and Nelson College (75-12).  All these opponents glibly excused their defeats by noting that their season was only just beginning – not that the South African one was in full swing. 

History tells us that Christchurch beat them 38-36, despite a stunning fightback by the Winelanders, the clincher, a penalty by a player who had been substituted earlier in the game. 

Simply put: that’s the only way anyone could beat these superb athletes, who promptly returned home to honour their obligations at St John’s, where they thumped Eye of the Tiger (57-0), edged Affies (14-10) and demolished an NSW Selection from Australia (65-0).

On opening day in Cape Town – game eight – they dumped Outeniqua 47-16 as a warm-up for Wildeklawer, where Selborne (33-18) and Glenwood (30-12) were summarily dealt with.

After that, they might have been forgiven for considering the rest of the season as being something of an anti-climax.  Irrespective of whether or not they did, they dispatched Wynberg 67-25 before putting on a masterclass to beat Grey College 46-31 in Bloemfontein.    

Back in the Peninsula, they beat all their Premier A opponents (Rondebosch 73-7, Paul Roos 21-9, Bishops 25-0, Boland Landbou 38-33, SACS 37-17 and archrivals Paarl Gym 18-13), a hard-earned 36-31 away win over Oakdale in June rounding out their programme.  

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this team is that it only yielded six provincial caps : left-wing Thaakir Abrahams, no. 8 Francke Horn (cruelly withdrawn due to a medical condition) flank Vian Fourie, lock Adrian Alberts (the last two also being selected for the national schools team), prop Joshua du Preez (Craven Week) and loosehead MJ Strauss (Academy Week). 

Space forbids naming all twenty-four of their scorers, but full-back/flyhalf Abner van Reenen racked up 182 points (15 tries), Horne dotted down seventeen times before the end of the June, Abrahams score ten tries, centre Divan Enslin, nine, and lock/loose forward Cornell Kotze, eight.

The naked facts?  The team scored 815 points (124 tries) and conceded 281.  That says it all!

In a team in which no-one shirked his responsibility, other stars included scrumhalf Eric Myburgh, hookers Wilhelm Barnard and Cullen van der Merwe, loose forward Evan Roos utility back le Roux Malan, wing Stuart Tait, and wing Sabri Jacobs.

However, the brightest spot in a most prominent galaxy was the team as a whole, which definitely includes coaches Shaun Erasmus and Elmo Wolfaardt.  

The large gap between Boishaai and their Winelands rivals further underlines their brilliance.

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