Place: Graeme College in Grahamstown
Date: Saturday, 28 March 2015
|St Andrew’s||33||20||Nico Malan|
PAM GOLDING PROPERTIES GRAEME RUGBY DAY RELEASE – 17 March 2015
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
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