Dale and Queen’s have a lot of relationship healing work ahead

As things stand, the Dale and Queen’s Class of 2018 won’t get to enjoy two of their usual matric school year highlights – the two big inter-schools derbies between the great rivals. That’s because of this 2017 communication from the Chairman of Queen’s College:

“A decision was made by the Queen’s College School Governing Body to terminate all sporting and cultural activities with Dale College due to numerous and ongoing incidents over the past few years. However, due to representations made by Dale College, the Board has decided to review the decision once further negotiations have taken place between the schools, with a view to addressing certain concerns raised by Queen’s.

All stakeholders will be kept up to date with developments.

C PieterseChairman Governing Body ”

At the 2017 season ending Dale-Queen’s Rugby derby played at the Graveyard, Dale’s home ground in “King”, a pitch invasion by Queen’s College students and what was described as alcohol consumption induced unpleasantries between adults from both support bases, resulted in the game ending 24-24 before the final whistle, with Dale not being afforded the opportunity to convert a relatively easy kick to win the match.

Queen’s didn’t seem to make much attempt to apologise for their scholars’ big part in match not running it’s course. They more or less indicated that the ref’s whistle after what appeared to be a fairly obvious looking knock-on had signalled the final whistle and led to the celebrations including running onto the field by their kids. But as it turned out, that blast of the whistle actually signalled the score equalising try being awarded to Dale, and so the actions of Queen’s boys could just as easily have been interpreted as them taking the law into their own hands. Certainly somewhere along the line there probably needed to be a stronger commitment or statement from Queen’s of what they intend to do to avoid a reoccurrence of a pitch invasion, especially if the result does not appear to be going their way.

Instead Queen’s pointed to a growing dissatisfaction with the way Dale manage their affairs and this has led Queen’s to terminate the relationship. The decision doesn’t seem to be limited to rugby either.

Controversial reffing decisions, alcohol consumption and even claims of alcohol being served during the 2017 match were raised as concerns at the time and believed to be contributors to an unhealthy sporting environment at Dale.

As things stand, it seems like Dale have expressed a responsibility to resolving issues surrounding the use and abuse of alcohol on their premises, which is encouraging. Action in this area might also go some way towards referees feeling less intimidated.

With regards to the perceived biased reffing, in the absence of concrete evidence to support claims of corruption, it’s extremely difficult to know what Dale is expected to do to improve the quality of what are meant to be independent Border Rugby appointed officials in every sense of the word.

Border school rugby has a few pressing issues and some growing challenges as well. A major one is the recruitment of their best players by schools (and even rugby unions) from other provinces. No Dale-Queen’s derbies ultimately results in a downgrade of the region’s rugby and is bound to be used by “poachers” one of the “cons” of staying put in that part of the Eastern Cape.

Cancelling fixtures especially ones against traditional opponents also kind of always points to some sort of stubborn adult dissatisfaction or unwillingness to get along/work things out, often at the expense of the kids and often ignoring the character developing values of interschool activities and other teen learning experience benefits.

That said sometimes extreme actions are needed to make sure that when decision-makers are finally able to put the egos aside and meet at the negotiating table, there is a reality check that the time or place for B.S. or lip-service is in the past.

Queen’s new headmaster Janse van der Ryst starts his tenure in January 2018 with this headache to sort out while Dale probably hopes that by the time their expected new head takes charge in a few months time, that the fallout is a thing of the past.



  1. Here’s to hoping that this is resolved in an amicable manner. As the oldest schoolboy derby in the Border, this is bigger than any individual. Both sides should come out as winners, and let the boys enjoy their high school highlights, just as generations had before them. May there be clear heads when negotiations resume.

  2. @Playa: A lot of the time in these school situations adult personalities get in the way of meaningful outcomes and/or fair and equitable decisions.

    It might be an idea to try get a true independent in the form of a retired judge or someone of that stature to oversee a minuted meeting where both Queen’s and Dale can make representations. Also allow representatives from the other major rugby schools in the region attend and make statements on the matter as well. Judge can then make a final ruling backed by the Rugby Union which both schools must then abide by.

    I guess the very contentious issue about the referee or standard of reffing would be the main hurdle to overcome. Maybe there is a workable solution???

  3. @Beet: I had a drink with a few SAC parents during December, and they cited the above points verbatim and suggested that SAC were concerned and considering whether to continue playing Dale. Whilst the reffing issue is out of everyone’s hands, the rest of the accusations are basic management factors. As I understand it, there is a department of education ruling that alcohol may not be served on school property. This doesn’t apply to Bush and I though

  4. @McCulleys Workshop: KC won’t be playing Dale this year and we’re their 3rd/4th oldest fixture i am told. However, i don’t think the main reason is for any of those outlined above :mrgreen:

  5. @Wyvern: 3rd! Oh wow! That’s a bummer. What’s the reason behind that? 8-O

    @McCulleys Workshop: @Beet: To be fair, the serving of alcohol at school grounds in the EC is not a practice that is exclusive to Dale. One problem at Dale is that the Sports Center is in the vicinity of the rugby grounds, and there admittedly isn’t much in terms of secluding the drinkers from the boys. This is being addressed.

    The same with the standard of refs. This is a wide problem throughout the Border region.Selbornians will tell you QTN refs are shocking, while Dalians will say the same about EL refs, and Queenians will echo that referring to KWT refs. A point will be missed if the ref discussion is focused purely on this one occasion, and tragic if also kept at KWT refs. It’s a union problem, and has been for some time. I hope what happened in August is a wake up call to take this matter seriously.

  6. @Playa: This is a little sad. I was looking forward to watching Dale vs Queen’s live this year. If I can help get this back on track. I promise not to drink or speak to the lady medics on the sideline.
    On a serious not, this all seems very childish. The two schools will end up hating each other. It sounds like the bun fight we have here in KZN. Come on Border, you guys are the salt of the earth.

  7. @Playa: I think the number of kids from Dale Junior coming to KC in recent years has been the source of most of the discontent :-|

    From Dale’s point of view, I’m not too sure how not playing KC is going to help, if this is indeed the case.

  8. @Wyvern: :roll: not this again!I thought this was resolved ages ago. We can’t help where boys want to go when leaving Dale Junior…sad as it is.

  9. @Playa: You are right about the refs, however as I understand it in KZN gov schools, alcohol can’t be consumed/served on the school premises at these events. I was under the impression it was an Education department ruling, however it could have been the school I was involved with. Open the bar after the game. At the Hilton House game they have to employ a whole security battalion to keep Bush off the park and away from the Medics.

  10. As a person who was present at that game i believe that these two schools need to sit and sort this out as i believe it can be done.

    And yes i do not think the ref was to blame for this, although he was not great a lot is mentioned about the QC boys running on the field which is correct and that QC needs to sort out but i believe this was a honest mistake so i do not believe these two issue were the grunt of the problem.

    Issue of concern were the two gents who impeded the QC boy dotting the ball down which he eventually did the ref did not see this the boy then threw the ball back and the Dale players carried on playing a then scored after a knock on. Also the issue of a knife been pulled by a clearly drunk Dale supporter this is not acceptable.

    And yes the alcohol is the biggest issue and now the peoples pride in trying to sort this out. And yes this is not a isolated thing there have been issues there before.

    There was a issue at a cricket match in the 4th term as well at Dale were the behaivour of some parents was shocking to say the least. ( You do not through things at school boys.)

  11. I do think that Queens have maybe over re-acted but Dale sort this crap out it does not do your school and name any good these things are happening at your grounds not QC’s or Selborne’s or SAC

    All i can say is QC/Dale come together and sort this out.

  12. Maybe Player can confirm this but as far as i know i dont think there are any 2 schools in SA who have played each other as much in games as these two so it would not be good for SBR to lose this.

    And ye maybe also these tow schools are so alike in all facet’s History/colours people and ethos.

  13. Just to clarify something with regards to the referee. QC was not upset about the standard of referees on the day, most of the staff and parents were actually very complimentary. QC is/ was upset that this particular referee had refereed virtually all of Dale’s home games in 2017 and 2016 to varying degrees of controversy. He had refereed the previous game against Hudson, which Dale were lucky to win. This ref was not scheduled to referee the Dale vs QC game as there were complaints laid about him previously, but for some reason he was given the go ahead to ref the game on Friday. Needless to say that he did not cover himself in glory. That was their main point of concern with regards to the referee

  14. With regards to sorting this mess out I can tell you for 100% certainty that QC had a meeting with Dale sometime in the fourth term to see if they could rectify this matter. QC’s grievances were obviously the drinking so close to the field, that no barrier existed for spectators to run onto the field, and the ref issue highlighted above. Dale could not guarantee that these grievances would be met and only after that did QC decide to cancel the fixture. Dale then came back for another meeting before the end of the year and that’s why the statement now reads as follows “However, due to representations made by Dale College, the Board has decided to review the decision once further negotiations have taken place between the schools, with a view to addressing certain concerns raised by Queen’s”. Obviously they did not want to do this but they do not want a repeat of what happened. A few old boys phoned the school threatening to withdraw from the old boys in light of what happened.

    From the outside what QC is doing might like childish but I dont think people understand what an effect this issue had on the school and its old boys. QC does not want it repeated. Please don’t get me wrong im not saying that QC is 100% innocent either

  15. @QC2000: Who made the U-Turn and appointed this ref at the last meeting? If I’m not mistaken, this is a union appointment and not one made by the home team. Which, if correct, speaks to the point I raised earlier about the referee crisis in the Border. There is not just a shortage of quality refs, but a shortage of refs period. This issue needs to be seen as more than just a horrible ref who refs most Dale’s home games controversially, but it also needs to be questioned why such a ref still gets such high profile matches.

    @QC2000: @rugbyfan: The matter of spectator behaviour & security is inexcusable, and it matters not whether the QC boys stormed the field first. It’s certainly a high priority amongst the Dale ranks, I can assure you of that.

  16. @Far Meadows: Morning Far Meadows. Happy New Year and all the very best for 2018. Dale and Queens could learn a thing or two from the Hilton Security. Flip they wouldn’t allow the House Boys to even look at the grass.


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