Ruggas Team Of The Year 2017

2017 Ruggas Team of the Year - Paarl Boishaai

Criteria - Simple pick the best schoolboy rugby team in 2017.

 

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King Edward VII School - KES 1stXV

The 2017 season was made special by a number of reasons. Firstly there was a special bond between the coaches and the players. Their dedication in the off and pre-season was exemplary and certainly stood the team in a great position for the coming season.

Importantly though was the manner in which the team played their rugby. Outside of their impressive results, they played a brand of rugby that was enjoyable and filled the stands with supporters aplenty. They never shirked the hard yards and many displays of putting their bodies on the line left a lasting impression on those who were privileged to have watched them. Most pleasing to see was the camaraderie amongst the boys on and off the field.

KES played 17 games this season with their only loss against Monnas which they lost 19-24, running out of time after an exceptional fightback in the second half. The performance against Monument will be a lasting memory. Very seldom have I seen a team outplay their opposition in every facet of the game and not walk away with a positive result. The manner in which they played that game spoke volumes of the team’s character.

And who will forget Affies …………

Paarl Boishaai 1stXV

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. History tells us that Christchurch beat them 38-36, despite a stunning fightback by the Winelanders. 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. 

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about this team is that it only yielded six provincial caps : left-wing Thaakir Abrahams, no. 8 Francke Horn (cruelly withdrawn due to a medical condition) flank Vian Fourie, lock Adrian Alberts (the last two also being selected for the national schools team), prop Joshua du Preez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

The naked facts?  The team scored 815 points (124 tries) and conceded 281 winning 18 of their 19 fixtures.  That says it all! However, the brightest spot in a most prominent galaxy was the team as a whole, which definitely includes coaches Shaun Erasmus and Elmo Wolfaardt. Thanks, uncle Tony Stoops.

Monument Hoërskool 1stXV

Monnas started this season of not as one of the favourites of 2017, change of coaching staff and lack of “stars” was given as the main reason when asked. They started the season off with a comprehensive victory of 30-5 against Welkom Gim at the Bulls rugby Day and then demolished Pietersburg 85-13 in a Tuks Series match. The first loss came against a spirited Eldoraigne 27-22 at Ellispark but it must be mentioned that Monnas was without several stars attending a SARU camp.

Six victories followed until that dreaded day at Wildeklawer when they faced a spirited Boland Landbou team. Boland Landbou outplayed and disrupted the normal calm and clinical Monnas winning 24-22. This loss had all the doomsday prophets doing I told you so. New coach Tjaart van der Walt, however, pulled the team together and Monnas became the champions of the two major titles in the Noordvaal Region.

Firstly beating EG Jansen comprehensively 50-13 for the TUKS Series title and then another clinical victory against Nelspruit, winning 40-26 in the VirSeker Macro Schools Final. Champions of the NoordVaal region perhaps? Only Helpmekaar and Affies would argue against that claim.

 

Helpmekaar Kollege 1stXV

The 1XV rugby team of Helpmekaar Kollege, known as the Brown Jerseys, became the best team in the vibey 96-year ‘young’ Afrikaans double-medium private school’s history. The team from the City of Gold proved this season that they are willing and able to compete with the top dogs of rugby playing schools in the country.

There are many good teams, but few great teams. The difference is often in the detail. In the case of the Helpies 1XV, it was that relentless pursuit of their goal to finish with 5 from 5 titles in the Beeld (now Virseker) Trophy that steadied their course and set them apart this season.

They powered their way up the ruggas.co.za ranking into the fourth position nationally and bagged their 3rd consecutive 1XV Virseker Trophy for Large schools at the end of the season.

The Brown Jerseys of 2017 topped off their spectacular 5-year high school career in a particularly magical way, winning 90% of their games and only losing once at home on ‘Die Braam’, including winning all five the Virseker Trophy (previously Beeld Trophy) titles in a row from grade 8 to matric.

The 2017 Helpies 1XV was recently congratulated by the school as their best team in their 96 years. A team to be remembered for a long time to come at ‘Die Braam’.

St Andrew's College 1stXV

The St Andrew's College 1st XV finished off their dominance against Eastern Cape opposition with a solid 40-17 victory over Dale College in Grahamstown on the 5th of August. This ended off a very successful season for the team, who, after suffering two early defeats against Bishops (21-29) and SACS (15-24), has not lost a game since Easter, beating traditional powerhouses Grey PE, Queens and Marlow in the process. They played 17 matches winning the last 11 games in a row.

This ended off a very successful season for the team, who, after suffering two early defeats against Bishops (21-29) and SACS (15-24), has not lost a game since Easter, beating traditional powerhouses Grey PE, Queens and Marlow in the process. They played 17 matches winning the last 11 games in a row.

What makes the season of St Andrew’s College 1stXV that much more special is their victory against Selborne which was their first against the traditional powerhouse since 1999 and St Andrew’s ranking improved from number 30 at the beginning of the year which they steadily improved to end the season at number 8 establishing themselves as the number 1 team in the Eastern Cape and one of the best in South Africa.

 

Dale College 1stXV

Dale College 1stXV is definitely not the top performing 1stXV in the country, not even in the Eastern Cape. So what made them so special to be nominated as one of the best of the 2017 schoolboy rugby season? Their season’s statistics read as follows – They played 21 games, won 12, lost 6 and drew 3. Many dDale supporters will let you understand in no uncertain terms that they won 13 games and the last match was stopped before Dale could convert a last-minute try to seal victory after the pupils of Queen’s college invaded the pitch before the kick could be taken.

And that is the reason of Dale 1stXV team’s nomination. These boys just do not understand the meaning of giving up. They almost pulled off a miraculous victory againsDrostdyay HTS losing 25-26 at the Kearsney festival, lost 24-25 against Queens and then the victory that will be remembered for a long team beating Selborne 22-19. Grey High was also beaten after trailing for a long time winning 28-27 and then that last match at Queen’s that they did win in the last seconds of the game.

Dale College just never gives up trying to win, and that is what makes them so special.

Stellenberg Hoërskool 1stXV

Don’t let this fool you; never has the difference between the literal (where WP Schools Rugby has put them) and figurative (the company in which they belong) meanings of the expression “in the same league” been more perfectly illustrated than by reference to the records of these four teams. The Jade Brigade’s efforts to improve their status on as many fronts as possible have been impressive.

Their 21-1-4 season did not start particularly auspiciously but after losing their last match in June against Boland Landbou saw them ending their season winning their last 8 matches in a row. A haul of six caps – right wing Angelo Davids, hooker Joshua Muller and lock Janko Swanepoel (Craven Week); full-back Corné van Romburgh, flyhalf Nivan Petersen and scrumhalf Jacques van Biljon (Academy Week) – is extraordinary for a second-tier side.

The side’s one-for-all ethic did not prevent several players from rising above the rest.  Captain Erik Vermeulen’s job was made much easier by the set-phase work of his second-row partner Swanepoel, Johann van der Merwe’s indefatigable efforts in the loose and van Romburgh’s distribution skills after he was moved to flyhalf. Were they full value for the money?  You bet! Thanks, Uncle Tony Stoops.

Grey College

Grey College played 13 games this year winning 11 of them with an average score of 55-16. During the 2017 season, they played against #1 Boishaai, #5 Paul Roos, #6 Affies, #7 Paarl Gimnasium, #9 Glenwood, #13 Waterkloof Hoërskool, #15 Grey High School, #32 Maritzburg College, and #35 Selborne College. 5 Teams from the Ruggas.co.za Rankings Top 10 schools.

With comprehensive victories of 83-10 against #9 Glenwood and 73-18 against # 13 Waterkloof. Their only two losses came against #1 Boishaai and then the very big surprise losing against #35 Selborne.

Their superb performance did not stop there, 15 of their boys were selected for the Free State u/18 Craven Week Team with another 9 boys selected for the u/18 Academy Week Team. The Free State Craven Week team was unbeaten during the week and some reckoned they deserved to be in the final, beating WP comprehensively on the last day.

Grey College ended # 2 on the Ruggas.co.za rankings and that in itself makes them a serious contender for this award.

Nelspruit Hoërskool 1stXV

Nelspruit 1stXV is still achieving excellent results although they have to fight harder and harder each year to retain local talent with talent scouts from all over South Africa hunting down local talent. Ending this year on #20 of the Ruggas.co.za rankings placed first of the Mpumalanga schools shows exactly how hard the fight is to retain local talent.

When Nelspruit started their season with an unexpected loss against Middelburg HTS, their local foe everybody expected a below-par year, however turning their season around eventually playing 15 games and losing 5. This performance does not exactly warrant a  Team of the Year nomination but the way Nelspruit’s 1stXV kept on fighting to reach the VirSeker Macro Schools final is a testament of the never say die attitude the boys from Nelspruit displayed in 2017. Losing to a very strong Monnas 26-40 in the final was a mental victory for Nelspruit as everybody was expecting a +50 hiding.

Stephan van der Bank’s and Banele Mthenjane’s selection for the SA Schools team was just the cherry on the cake as Nelspruit already had 7 Craven Week players and 4 Academy Week selected for the Pumas’ provincial sides.

 

Rondebosch Boys High School 1stXV

It might not be much consolation, but Rondebosch (10-2-8) did lay claim to the local crown by virtue of victories over Bishops (32-19 and 64-7), Wynberg (34-13 and 25-16) and SACS (36-22 away).  Only a 14-14 home draw against the last-mentioned spoiled their report card. Their problem was two-pronged: a lengthy and long-lasting injury list and maddening lapses in confidence – most visible in the Hugenote and Bellville matches – which manifested itself in several aspects, not least a maddening uncertainty as to who should be the designated goalkicker.

Their best form, towards the end of the season, coincided with the inclusion of young Ross Stone at flyhalf, who contributed 41 welcome points and freed captain Robbie Davis, the top points scorer with 80 (which included nine tries) to concentrate on his favoured position of scrumhalf.  Five other kickers also did duty during the winter.

Fair enough, the season may have started with great expectations, which went largely unrealized until the business end of the campaign, but recent memories fortunately tend to last longest ! Thanks Uncle Tony Stoops.