Greytness may have to be achieved without X-factor in 2023

Grey’s 2023 team might have to be throwback to the overachievers of 2011, if they hope to end top of the rankings pile in 2023.

Every season is a little different and thanks to Grey participating with an under-17 squad at the World Schools Festival 2022 in Thailand, where they youngsters did exceptionally well to make the final, enthusiasts had a unique opportunity to see what Grey has coming into the 2023 season.

Admittedly Thailand came with all sorts of challenges for all the competitors. The wind, the narrow fields, the heat and for the Southern Hemisphere teams, it was the offseason. However all-in-all it was a super experience for the boys and provided the coaches with a very good platform to work on in the lead up to 2023’s regular season. Hopefully the costs of touring do not get in the way of Grey returning to Thailand in 2023.

The evident feature for the neutral to take out of it, was that Grey do not seem to possess X-factor players for 2023 and that’s what draws the comparison to unbeaten side of 2011. In 2011 the team ground out character-filled victories. Sure they had the likes of top rated Jan Serfontein and outstanding leader Dries Swanepoel in the midfield, but even still wins were hard fought affairs and in the end it felt like they were one of the biggest overachievers of all Grey 1st XVs.

2023 will have a few stars. Maybe not in the glamour positions though. Players like Jean Erasmus (3), Marno Stopforth (5) and JJ Theron (8) are going to be standouts.


Another interesting thing about Grey is that although they are the highest profile team in South African schoolboy rugby circles, their head coaches are generally humble men who do tend to go about the duties of the hardest job in SBR without drawing much attention to themselves.

Right off the cuff, old Grey head coach Jannie Geldenhuys, now about to start his third season in charge, proved no different to his predecessors in this regard. The very first people Jannie heaped praises on where this fellow Grey coaches, starting with the guys who do a great job with the juniors and then moving up to those making big contributions in their structures, to ensure the products arriving at 1st XV and Cherries level are of a high calibre.

About the forward based game

There was a time in SBR when nothing could touch a sublime slick handling backline. This was first prize if a school wanted to go big. Grey were the standard-setters. They high tempo combined with superior conditioning ruled the roost.

But a few years ago, it just left like something changed and suddenly the top end performers like Grey and like Paarl Gim had unbelievably good forward dominated structures in place.

Coach Geldenhuys does not buy into this theory. Instead he highlighted the linespeed of defences in SBR. Granted this is now faster than ever before. The space afforded to the boys in the past seasons just is not readily available. In the big season defining matches, a once norm is becoming a luxury.

He spoke of the fields in Thailand being narrow and the opponents being big boys, which hindered the expansive game but added that “if there is opportunity out wide, we will definitely try to exploit that…”

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  1. avatar
    #10 Rainier

    @beet: I watched that game. He played very well. I am waiting for the GK reunion next year when Ethan Adams joins him in the midfield.

    21 May, 2023 at 16:52
  2. avatar
    #9 beet

    @Rainier: Yes great game for Pieter today. Was a mouthwatering matchup against Janco Purchase who is also a star in the making.

    Not sure if you watched this match:

    For me at the moment the other van der Merwe aka Ian also doing super work in the 10 jersey. Just an outstanding player.

    20 May, 2023 at 20:17
  3. avatar
    #8 Deon

    Greytness in rugby, korrek. Ware Greytness, Greysteness, oor die hele spektrum, kry mens in SA net in daardie sowat 90 vierkante kilometer trapesium tussen die vier Wynland skole, alhoewel die area onmiddelik rondom ook die Noorde se skolerugby beduidend voed.

    20 May, 2023 at 17:29
  4. avatar
    #7 Djou

    @Rainier: Hy is regtig goed. Jy het dit reeds verlede jaar geroep. Well done!

    20 May, 2023 at 17:07
  5. avatar
    #6 Rainier

    @beet: I am taking a small victory lap here. Except for 2 missed tackles and an errant pass Van Der Merwe was exceptional today, the same as last week and he has improved over the season.

    Hard to believe he is still /17 with his physicality.

    20 May, 2023 at 16:17
  6. avatar
    #5 Rainier

    @Mate: Nog nie. Maar Van der Merwe’s het diep Skotse wortels. :wink:

    14 February, 2023 at 08:16
  7. avatar
    #4 Mate

    Is hy n Skot?

    13 February, 2023 at 14:44
  8. avatar
    #3 beet

    @Rainier: Got it. Who doesn’t want to see a top player in the making.

    Pieter van der Merwe

    Hopefully he goes on to produce plenty of highlights over the next couple of seasons

    8 February, 2023 at 23:10
  9. avatar
    #2 Jakkals

    I rate Jean Erasmus (3) highly. I think he willbe a bit of a superstar this year…

    6 February, 2023 at 14:25
  10. avatar
    #1 Rainier

    Beet, there is also a potential superstar in the midfield with Pieter van der Merwe, one the classiest players I have ever seen. /17 this year.

    Jot that name down.

    6 February, 2023 at 09:45

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