Peter Schutte out as coach of Durbanville
This one landed like a bombshell. Durbanville have clearly trying to up their rugby profile in recent times. In any other region in SA, the school would have been a fully-fledged tier-1 school by now but not so in the Western Province, where they are still condemned to B-league status. The WP Premier League is traditionally the toughest in the nation and with nine schools in the mix, it is already a bit congested.
So Durbies in their ongoing efforts to make a bigger, better rugby name for themselves, manage to beat Paarl Boys’ High School and Rondebosch, draw with SACS and provide good resistance to Wynberg and Stellenberg, in what turns out to be a very respectable 2023 season under Schutte’s guidance.
The negative was perhaps the dramas surrounding under-19 players, where there was damage control and WPRU didn’t make a call against the recruitment strategy or the players.
Since the School Governing Body had a big say in this coach’s outcome, one of the interesting observations that came out of the ordeal is whether or not an established coach from the “Noord” can rely on the same personality that goes down so well North of the Vaal, when dealing with the Cape community.
Unconfirmed Johan van Rooyen to take over at Boland Landbou
Nothing on official record yet but it sounds like sport science / strength and conditioning coach Johan van Rooyen is the strong favourite to take charge of the Boland Landbou 1st XV. Assistant coaches Schoeman du Preez, Albertus Buckle and Marlyn Williams are likely to continue on in the support roles.
Van Rooyen was the Director of Rugby at Kempton Park before joining BL.
Well documented now is the 2023 BL head coach Vlos Molnar will join his predecessor Oloff Bergh in the trek North to Diamantveld of Kimberley, where duo will be head coach and head of rugby respectively.
Very interesting is the targeting of “Landbou” school officials by the Diamonds. Diamantveld are hoping to extend their school offering to include agricultural farming school courses and with it, hopefully improve interest from the surrounding farming community to send their kids to school in Kimberley. They have the infrastructure and resources available. The goal now is trying to find the right person to teach the subjects of Agricultural Management Practice and Agricultural Science. It won’t be an easy post to fill. There are not many agricultural teachers in SA.
Musical chairs for the SACS head coaching post
South African College Schools will once again be switching between its two astute and loyal coaches Graeme Wepener and Nick Mauer, with the latter set to take over from the former once again. Both Wepenaar and Mauer have produced good seasons in the past when the overall quality of the squads were decent.
SACS have had a tough time of late in the WP Premier League and when one fine-combs the underlining issues, don’t be surprised if it turns out they have/had the smallest rugby budget of all the schools in their league. For the reasons, the discussion really has to start with and revolve around headmaster first.
For headmaster Brendan Grant things have been particularly tough. Since he moved from being a deputy at Graeme College to take over the leadership role from David Lovatt at Queen’s College, his first rugby year being 2013 is still his one and only good rugby season on record. SACS’ last top season was 2017, the last year of former head Ken Ball. Grant has been in charge at Newlands Avenue since Ball left in August 2017.
Also interesting is that in a school history of 194 years, Grant is only the tenth headmaster. The average term before him was a little over 20 years, so they have a knack for picking the right man for the job.
Brighter days appear to be lying ahead. The introduction of iconic former pro player Josh Strauss into their junior coaching structure along with bigger emphasis on recruitment, is seeing stronger teams coming up the age-groups and this will hopefully bear fruit at 1st XV level in a few seasons time.
Rondebosch to welcome back a coach while another considers a sabbatical
The details haven’t been touched on in any sort of depth but its been a hectic year or so off the field for the Rondebosch coaches. The type of events unfolded that no amount of training or experience could have prepared any of them for.
The expectation now is that head coach Joel Carew will return and resume his duties in 2024.
Also on the cards but not yet 100% confirmed is that Director of Rugby Clinton van Rensburg will step away from the post for a period of time, so don’t expect to see the familiar figure in the Bosch coaching/technical area until possibly 2025.
Interestingly Bosch have opted out of participating in nearby neighbours Bishops’ 175th birthday rugby festival celebration during March 2024. Instead they will tour KZN where a Sharks curtain-raiser match at Kings Park against Durban High awaits followed by participation in the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival.
Rinse, Repeat at Parel Vallei
B-leaguers Parel Vallei’s ongoing quest to improve their rugby profile enters a new chapter with the appointment of highly motivated Alwyn Burger to run rugby at the Somerset West co-ed. The very experienced Burger joins from Hugenote in Wellington where he also held the job title of Director of Rugby. He has worked at Rustenburg and Heidelberg Volkskool in the past and his hands-on value-adding potential won’t be limited to rugby. He replaces Trompie Fourie who is heading to agricultural school Marlow in Cradock.
Unlike Stellenberg before they became a national household name amongst school rugby followers, or even Durbanville and Tygerberg before that, Parel Vallei, in spite of concentrated efforts to improve, including a rugby partnership with Garsfontein pre-Covid, have struggled to make any sort of inroads in terms of rugby results, when given the limited opportunities against the big Cape schools. As a result they have remained minnows, probably best represented by not having a presence at any of the festivals that attract the top schools. It is also really difficult for them to attract good players in the face of all the competition they face in the region.
It does feel like all the hurdles that lay ahead a decade ago, are all still there for them to get over.
A couple of the biggest, most pressurised jobs in SA schoolboy rugby are likely to come up for contractual review after the 2024 season, meaning this is a year the respective coaches desperately want results in key games to go their way and likewise hope that the various national ranking models shine favourably on their teams. It may seem crazy but these seemingly little things now count in large amounts amongst old boys and even the core parent supporters who pledge loyalty and tend to put money where their mouth is.