Graeme Rugby Day 2015

Place: Graeme College in Grahamstown
Date: Saturday, 28 March 2015

School School
Union 0 8 Cambridge
Muir 0 26 Hudson Park
Queen’s 41 7 Pearson
Selborne 45 12 Brandwag
Kingswood 28 31 Marlow
St Andrew’s 33 20 Nico Malan
Graeme 0 27 Dale
Grey HS 24 15 Bishops


WHAT started as a special project to celebrate Graeme College’s 125th anniversary in 1998 has developed into an Eastern Cape rugby spectacular which looks sure to remain a permanent date on the schools calendar.

This is the view of Graeme master in charge of rugby Nico van der Meulen who has been involved since the outset and says the Graeme Rugby Day will not be disappearing any time soon.

“It has been going for 17 years and we will be keeping it going for another 100 years as long as the schools support it!” Van der Meulen said.

Starting last year, the day, which takes place on March 28, has been given added impetus with the support of Grahamstown firm Pam Golding Properties.

And Van der Meulen’s view that the Graeme Rugby Day will continue to happen each year was backed by Daphne Timm, of the sponsors.

“This [the sponsorship] is most definitely not on annual review,” Timm said, “long term is where I see it.

“We always align ourselves with each of the schools in Grahamstown for a function a year – and this is something we chose to rather manage than just sponsor the event.

“Our involvement came about from a longstanding relationship with not only the schools, but also with [former headmaster] Peter Reed and Nico van der Meulen.”

A feature of the Graeme Rugby Day is that it is possibly the only event of such a stature which comes at no cost to the players.

Van der Meulen said: “It is the only rugby day where the teams come in, play a match against strong opposition, and can go home again without paying a cent. There is no charge for any player and the first XVs get a T-shirt to take home as well.

“This is where the Grahamstown community get together and sponsor the day. Pam Golding have got on board since last year and they run the day, organising the sponsors, while Graeme organise the schools.”

Reflecting on the day, Van der Meulen said it had grown over the years, with a long list of schools wanting to compete in the day each year.

“We started the  Graeme Rugby Day to have something special to mark  Graeme’s 125th reunion in 1998,” Van der Meulen said. “So we invited the school first XVs, and  then they asked us if they could bring their U14 and U15 teams as well.

“This was a good idea because it filled up all the fields, so we had lots of supporters for all the first XVs.

“An important change has come about this year in that we stopped the U15 teams but rather invited the U16s of each school, along with their U14 and first teams, so now a player can come every second year and play.”

Van der Meulen paid tribute to the schools who supported them each year.

“We are very grateful to the schools who do support the day,” he said. “Our  main focus is on the Eastern Cape schools. However, we will continue inviting another top rugby school to be part of the day.

“We have had here in the past Glenwood, Westiville (twice), Grey College (twice) and a school team from Argentina.”

This year Bishops of Cape Town will add the “foreign” flavour, taking on Grey High in the final match of the day.

Cape Town school Bishops looked forward to the first appearance – 11 March 2015

Released by: BB Media:
EXCITED about making their first appearance at the Pam Golding Properties Graeme College Rugby Day, Bishops will bring their own brand of running rugby in what promises to be another spectacular day of schoolboy action.

The Cape Town school will take on Grey High in the feature match of the day on March 28, turning their trip to the Eastern Cape into a mini-tour because they will also be playing  St Andrew’s on March 26 in a long-standing rivalry which began in 1896.

It will be a tough few days for the Bishops lads, but head of rugby Angus Firth said they were ready to embrace the challenge and were looking forward to a tour to the Eastern Cape which, at one stage, used to be a regular feature on their rugby calendar.

“We entered (the Graeme Rugby Day) as a it was becoming superfluous to travel to Grahamstown for one fixture against St Andrew’s and Graeme very kindly invited us two years ago to join their Rugby Day,” Firth said.

“It was always a longstanding tradition where we used to tour the Eastern Cape and this is a little part of attempting to revive this tradition. Three-match festivals have taken the tour enjoyment factor away from so many boys and this hopefully will have a very much more tour feel than a festival.

“We are playing Grey at the day, a hugely formidable foe, but like us they like to play an open and exciting brand of rugby so it should be a superb spectacle no matter who wins.”

While many schoolboy games are exciting to watch because of their willingness to run the ball, there can be little dispute that Bishops are among the frontrunners in employing  that strategy, with a running philosophy deeply embedded in their rugby culture.

Firth said that would not be changing any time soon. “It’s what keeps our rugby alive. It is in our rugby vision statement and we are holding on to the philosophy no matter what obstacles we face,” he said.

At times lighter and smaller than some of their opponents, Firth said Bishops adopted their running philosophy in an attempt to counter heavier teams they faced.

“It was certainly initially developed or evolved out of  a means to beating the larger more physically developed Afrikaans boys in our region or at least challenging them,” Firth said.

“First, Piley Rees embraced the philosophy but then Basil Bey took it to new levels and with huge success. Since Basil retired, Andre Jacobs (ex-St Andrew’s 1st XV coach) has developed the pattern perhaps even more so in order to cope with the restricting modern laws and structures, as did Dave Mallett in his time.

“So simply, the philosophy is deeply entrenched and very much part of our pattern of play right through the school with just a few individual coaching tweaks here and there.”

Bishops certainly face an interesting test in their Eastern Cape visit because the clash with St Andrew’s  will be their first full game of the season.

“We have done lots of conditioning and skill work thus far,” Firth said. “St Andrew’s is our first full match as our season starts a little later. Objectives are our traditional ones to play a fast-paced, support-based attacking style and constantly challenge the boys to beat the game of rugby and not necessarily the opposition.”

In travelling to Grahamstown, Bishops will be missing out on the Paul Roos Day, also on March 28, as the Stellenbosch school celebrates its 150th anniversary. But Firth said their priority had been to compete in the Graeme Rugby Day since the invitation two years ago.

“We committed to the Graeme Day well  in advance of any knowledge or planning of the Paul Roos Day,” he said. “It was spoken about two years ago! We also chose to play the St Andrew’s fixture now so that it fitted into the Graeme Day which we had heard was a hugely spirited and well organised day.

“We are really looking forward to the Graeme Day and allowing our boys to experience some of the renowned Eastern Cape hospitality.”

Released by: BB Media


School School
Union Cambridge
Muir Hudson Park
Queen’s Pearson
Selborne Brandwag (Uitenhage)
Kingswood Marlow
St Andrew’s Nico Malan
Graeme Dale
Grey HS Bishops


  1. Thanks Beet as per the final combined rankings U14 U 15 U 16 and 1STS from SA Schools Sports News web site, the only strength on strength fixture is Kingswood vs Marlow the others , have an average deficit of 40 ranking places between them , however, the day always seems to bring out the best in all the teams, and some surprises,are on the cards.

  2. @spilly: Rankings can be misleading – just ask the Boks :mrgreen:

    The only mismatch I see there is QC vs Pearson. A match up against Muir would have been a better one.

  3. @Playa: Don’t underestimate Pearson as they are doing a lot of good work with their sporting program and are definitely improving every year.

  4. @Mike:I reported that video to FB . But viewers are welcome to watch previous years as an alternative.It is more suitable for sensitive viewers. :mrgreen:

  5. @spilly: I will inform the Brandwag coach and players that you don’t really see them as strong enough opponents..should help with some extra motivation for the game! :mrgreen:

  6. @Playa: On paper it should be above average but then again our pre-season training is always our undoing in the early season. How is the Dale team looking for next year?

  7. @Wyvern: They’ll be alright. a few experienced men staying on, and a good group from this year’s 2nd team. They’ll be sure to play a great game of rugby, but results will be anyone’s guess.

  8. @BOG: I thought you might. :wink:
    Selborne team on paper will be the EC team to beat next year. If they get it right they will be very difficult to beat.

  9. @Mike: Without a doubt. If those boys’ heads stay on planet earth, they could make some proper history next year.As much as QC86 would hate to hear this, but it helps to have an oldie like Taylor there to keep the boys in line. On paper, they have everything going for them next year…

    You okes won’t be too shabby either from what I hear. :mrgreen:

  10. @Playa: I agree 100%. Those boys need to stay humble and focused. What’s interesting though is that, Border had strong u16A teams this year, which should make 2015 a year for potential upsets…some “dream teams” tend to disappoint at times :mrgreen:

  11. @Playa: Yeah I Grey has to focus on putting together an all round team for next year. What you don’t want happening is the team looking to Bosch and Vers to make something from nothing every game. I maintain if the senior boys in the team collectively start playing well from game one, the season will go well. But yeah Selborne will be a force to be reckoned with if they play to their potential and keep their feet grounded.

  12. @Mike: That’s always a danger when you have stars in your team. We’ve seen it all too often, even in professional rugga.

  13. @Mike: Is Vers still at school next year he was with my cousin in Grade 10 who has just left school so is he not a bit on the old side.

  14. @Playa: Wonder why QC is playing Pearson although I suspect Pearson to be quite strong they have bought a lot of boys from the lesser schools in PE over the last two years so they could surprise. Also QC is a unkown for next year this age group at Under 16 level were shocking. Although with 4 Under 16 backline players this year who were really top notch they might actually surprise many.

    But Agree Selborne should be the team to beat by far and Grey will always be strong.

  15. @Playa: The Kingswood 1st team possibles for next year will have 5 boys in that did there grounding at Dale and 1 from Hudson Park.

    They should have a decent side as there Under 16A were really good this year.

  16. @kcman: You speak about Pearson doing a lot of good work with there sport I will agree with you there if you count buying players as good work. :mrgreen:

  17. @Queenian: @Playa: Went past Queens the other day and they tell me Illano Smith will be playing rugby again this coming year so that will make there good Under 15A team from this a brilliant Under 16A team next year, he must be one of the best centre’s I have ever seen at Under 13/14 level I have ever seen. He took this year off to concentrate on Cricket and Hockey and squash. Smells of a Daryll Cullinan who did the same thing at school playing rugby some years and not others.

    But anyway if its true QC look to have a powerfull 1st team in 2 years time.

  18. @Queenian: Queens can be a really unpredictable beast, and with John Duncan back in the mix, one would be stupid to predict their fortune for 2015 based on the current age group’s past record.


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