The Power of Positive Sports Relationships

There are some interesting relationships connected to the biggest derbies in South African schoolboy rugby.

Positive sports relationships play a crucial role in the development of individuals, fostering a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, and personal growth. Whether it’s the bond between teammates, coaches, or even the connection between athletes and supporters, these relationships contribute significantly to the overall positive impact of sports on individuals and communities.

  1. Teammate Camaraderie: Matt King, Head Coach of Grey High versus Chase Morison, Head Coach of Selborne College

One of the primary pillars of positive sports relationships is the camaraderie among teammates. In team sports, players often spend countless hours together practicing, strategizing, and competing. The shared experiences, challenges, and victories create a unique bond that extends beyond the playing field. This camaraderie fosters trust, communication, and mutual respect, forming a supportive environment where athletes can thrive both personally and athletically.

When we discuss the biggest season-ending intercity interschools derbies, the list is topped by the like of Grey College against Paul Roos, Boland Landbou against Oakdale and of course Grey High against Selborne. This year there will be a little something extra on the line when Grey and Selborne meet. Both head coaches are not only Old Selbornians but back in 2009 then 1st XV scrumhalf Matt King was prop Chase Morison’s captain. Chase has described Matt as a great captain while Matt said his then grade-11 prop is a great guy and a friend.

  1. Coach-Player Dynamics: Carl Spilhaus, Director of Rugby at Jeppe versus Marco Engelbrecht, Head Coach of KES.

The relationship between coaches and players is equally vital. Positive coaching involves more than just teaching skills; it requires mentorship, guidance, and understanding. Coaches who focus on building strong, positive relationships with their athletes not only enhance their performance but also contribute to their personal development. A supportive coach can instill confidence, motivation, and a sense of belonging, creating a lasting impact that goes beyond the athlete’s time on the field.

There are so many mouthwatering derbies that take place each and every season. Amongst the biggest and best is the Jozi all-boys’ high school clashes between Jeppe and KES. Carl Spilhaus, the well-known veteran coach, has handed over the head coaching role to Drickus Venter ahead of the 2024 season. But long before Carl was Head Coach on Collard Field, he was the KES Head Coach, with one of the finest players for him to nurture being flyhalf Marco Engelbrecht. Marco has since become Head Coach of KES, setting up a classic teacher-versus-student scenario as part of the great derby.

  1. Community Engagement: Bruce Hughes, Headboy & Captain of DHS 1994 versus Erik Aissing, Headboy & Captain of Glenwood 1993

Sports have a remarkable ability to bring communities together. Positive sports relationships extend beyond the immediate team, reaching out to supporters and old boys. The sense of belonging and shared passion for a team or sport creates a communal bond that can unite people from diverse backgrounds. This shared enthusiasm fosters a positive atmosphere, promoting inclusivity and tolerance within the community.

Sadly the Durban High School versus Glenwood derby no longer exists but there was a time when it was a huge crowd-puller in Durban. Two ballies who would have played against each other in 1993 derby that ended 8-0 to DHS, where the standout pair of Bruce Hughes (scrumhalf) and Erik Aissing (flyhalf). They probably met a few times after school as well. Well fast-forward to current day and both are the proud fathers of talented players who have come through the Michaelhouse system. Bruce’s son Jack will probably be the House’s 1st XV no.9 this season, taking over the role from Erik’s son Josh (Class of 2023). There is more to come, as Erik’s younger son Daniel (u16A scrumhalf in 2023) and Bruce’s youngster Ben (u14A scrumhalf in 2023) may also feature for MHS 1st XV rugby over the next few years.

  1. Personal Growth and Well-being: Jaco and Rudi Dames of Menlopark and EG Jansen respectively

Engaging in positive sports relationships contributes significantly to an individual’s personal growth and well-being. The encouragement and support received from teammates and coaches can boost self-esteem, resilience, and mental toughness. The lessons learned through challenges and successes on the sports field often translate into valuable life skills, helping individuals navigate various aspects of their personal and professional lives.

Two of the really good-guys who help forge South Africa’s rugby future are top coaches and brothers Jaco and Rudi Dames, who will square off when the 1st XV’s of EG Jansen and Menlopark meet in the Noordvaal Cup. By investing time, mentorship, and positive guidance in the development of young players, they are not just shaping players; they are forging the future, cultivating a generation empowered with the skills, values, and resilience necessary for success both on and off the playing field.


In conclusion, positive sports relationships form the bedrock of a thriving sports community. Whether it’s the bonds between teammates, the dynamic between coaches and palyers, or the connection with supporters and old boys, these relationships contribute to a positive and enriching sports experience. Beyond the physical aspect of the game, the emotional and social connections forged through sports have the power to inspire, uplift, and create a lasting impact on individuals and communities alike. Embracing and nurturing positive sports relationships ensures that the true essence of sports—unity, growth, and mutual support—is preserved for generations to come.

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  1. avatar
    #2 Ystervark

    Chase Morison is no longer the 1st XV coach of Selborne

    17 January, 2024 at 03:47
  2. avatar
    #1 ICEMAN

    nicely written, Beet and loads of truth in here. At the very essence there is so much good about sport in general and schoolboy rugby, in particular but it’s almost become a cut-throat business these days. I hope we never lose the “feel good” element to it

    15 January, 2024 at 14:03

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