World Rugby Festival 2018 – a success or a failure?

Well Theo Garrun has made his thoughts clear. He hasn’t been impressed and even poses a moral compass question or two. You can read it here:

The one-sided nature of many of the matches inspired a lot of negative comments during the course of the week. On average the winning teams beat the losing ones by almost 40-points, which is a huge gap.

It didn’t help that in the marketing media release clearly stated : “…10 of the best schools from around the globe.” which clearly wasn’t the case. Not helping was that two big name teams Hamilton BHS and Otago BHS dropped out along the way.

Then people took swipes at the quality of the lighting and even the field conditions which required sawdust.

Other than that it seems like it all went down very well.

Importantly the Boishaai fraternity who were celebrating their 150th birthday all seemed to have a good time and shared their support for the initiative.

Was there a change of tune once it became obvious that ten of the best South African schools versus weak ones wasn’t going to make for good memories of tight hard-fought wins, yeah perhaps? If there was “re-branding” or “damage control”, it certainly didn’t damper the popularity of the occasion.

Fledging festivals are extremely had to get right the first time around. Just research the humble beginnings of Noord-Suid compared where that festival is now. The safe route would have been to do something like Paul Roos or Durban High School’s very popular one off rugby days for their respective recent 150ths.

Hats off to them, the Boishaai festival was something unique. A few schools got to face Hakas while others watched it as part of the entertainment.

The event costs big bucks but computicket sales were in the region of 21 000 tickets solds for the four days, including that sell out final day of 9500, which no doubt created an amazing atmosphere at the Brug Street ground.

For those who couldn’t get to the ground, the streaming quality and the commentary was generally of a very high standard.

In large it was thanks to the sponsors that were brought on board – those being getting these funds have to be complimented.


Paarl Boy’s High signed up to host the WSF for two more years.

Next year’s event will take place from 24-29 March, so it will be during the school holidays but will not clash with the older Easter Festival rugby in 2019.

Interestingly the venue for next year’s event is yet to be confirmed – perhaps pointing to organisers thinking a long the lines of bigger and better? Brug Street may be too small?

The certainly is more time to lock in overseas school now.

However the challenges to introduce competitive teams won’t go away.

New Zealand are really the only country who can put out worthy under-18 level competition in the form of school teams. England have a few good ones too. School teams from the rest of the world will struggle to go 70-minutes with our local schools and come away with a respectable scoreline.

Although all costs are taken care of once they arrive on SA shores, visiting teams still have to pay for their own flights. There’s a good reason why Saffa schools don’t make a habit of touring New Zealand and vice versa. It’s a logistical nightmare and costs an arm and a leg.

Then there’s an even bigger headache. New Zealand schools start their rugby season later than their SA counterparts.Napier’s New Zealand coach hinted that his team had had only four training sessions ahead of their first game, due to summer sports taking precedence. Hardly ideal compared to the sophisticated and well-established off-season training routines implemented in SA, which see players having as much as 5-months under the belt plus a handful of actual matches by the end of March.

In England, the top players are involved in under-18 internationals at around about Easter time, which could effect their availability to tour.





  1. How can it not be a success? Ask any of the boys that participated and they will tell you it was n success…
    You might not be impress with all overseas teams. That will improve as the tournament grow in porpularity…

  2. Maybe there is an opportunity to strike a balance. We don’t necessarily have to have the perceived top 10 SA schools. Perhaps the organisers can look at a mix of the so called big guns and those bubbling a little further back. I also think the organisers can look at promoting development of our smaller schools with a composite team or two. Concepts of overseas teams is a good one but the one sided nature of many fixtures must be addressed. What it also indicates is the appetite for a school boy fest in the South of the country. It is the balance between perceived quality of opponents and the quest for closely fought games. Hopefully with the emphasis of running rugby! And lastly lose the Ryder Cup. Why are some so preoccupied with Bekers!

  3. Ja-ja whatever.
    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Vir ‘n 1ste poging dink ek dit was fantasties. Die 1ste tone is ten minste in die water gesteek.
    Hopelik is goeie fondamente gele vir uitbreiding en verbetering deur toekomstige organiseerders oor jare wat kom.
    Intussen kan die gifgatte maar hul monde uitspoel. Niks verhoed die anti-brigade om mos iets soortgelyk te organiseer nie, of hoe?

  4. alles goed en well en dit was HJS se 150 ste maar buiten Garsfontein@Grey op noord/suid was al die feeste absoluut afgewater.Daar nou te veel feeste en maak dit vir my nie moeite werd om meer na St johns of Saints te gaan.Baie swak skole,min great games.Alle feeste kan leer by bg oor hospitality maar die ruggas way below par.Asb mnie nog n fees begin nie

  5. Ek dink vir ‘n eerste keer was dit ‘n great sukses gewees. Ja daar gaan foute en groeipyne wees met so toernooi, maar ek dink as mens net kyk na die toeskouergetalle, was dit al klaar ‘n sukses gewees. (Ek dink Loftus het hierdie jaar al minder mense gesien met Super Rugby games, so dit wys die gewildheid en belangstelling wat tans heers op skolerugby vlak).

    Daar was mismatches gewees, maar weereens dit kan toegeskryf word aan groeipyne en dalk met bietjie beter huiswerk wat gedoen kan word oor die oorsese spanne, kan dit ook vermy word. (Die flipside van die coin was dat niemand kon voorsien dat die Argentyne so gaan brul nie, so dit was ‘n aangename verrassing)

    Laastens, ek was ook bevoorreg om in die laaste wedstryd van die Saterdag so bietjie uit te draf, en dit maak nie saak of jy 10 jaar laas gespeel het nie, as jy daai toks (en deep heat reuk eers geruik het), skop die muscle memory (in my geval baie flou muscles) dadelik weer in! Die lyf is nou nog seer, maar rugby bly die beste game in die wêreld!

    Oor en uit.

  6. Beet ek wed jou Theo Garrun was nie by die fees nie !Hy klink totaal oningelig .Hierdie was altyd HJS se 150 fees gewees en dit het n internasionale geur gehad en was ‘n eerste in SA op skolevlak.Ek het dit bygewoon en dit was ‘n reusesukses wat bywoningsgetalle aanbetref en nuwe vriensdskapsbande is gesmee tussen die seuns en afrigters van reg oor die wêreld.Dit is mos ook opvoedkundig alleen Theo Garrun !Daar is hoogstens 5 skole in NZ en miskien 2 in Engeland wat ons Top 10 skole kan aanvat en goeie teenstand bied.Kan nie dink dat Blackrock College in Ierland en ‘n 0/18 akademie span van bv Racing Metro ook ons top 5 spanne sommer kan klop nie.Met n jaar tot die volgende toernooi kan meer van die NZ top skole soos bv Auckland Grammer,Hamilton Boys High,St Kentigerns en Rotarua Boys High ‘n beter kans hê om die toernooi by te woon.Well done aan Boishaai en Carinat vir ‘n great inisiatief en doen so voort.

  7. @Scrum5: Absoluut geen twyfel dat die fees ‘groot sukses was. Miskien enkele groeipyne, maar in konteks beskou, ‘n uitstaande geleentheid wat gerus herhaal kan word.
    Wees ook maar versigtig om spanne soos Affies te vroeg af te skryf.
    Daar was ‘n paar manne wat werklik indrukwekkende rugby gespeel het.
    Stem saam dat die Ryder Cup idee maar laat vaar word. Bragging rights is enough.

  8. @Losbal: Uit die meeste reaksie wat ek kan aflei was dit n sukses so well done Heyneke en Cristo Wiese en co :mrgreen: Ek dink miskien was 10 skole vir n 1 ste keer bietjie baie.Soos NS klein begin is,het hy organies gegroei wat altyd goed werk. Wat NS uniek maak is die seccies wat ek dink great is.Sterkte vorentoe met die toernooi,like dit of nie,hys hier om te bly.

  9. From a festival point of view it must be regarded as a success. Yes, there were mismatches, but it can be rectified.
    However, it seems as if the organisers are going to repeat some mistakes. If the New Zealand teams only start their season in April, why is the date for next year end March?
    Also, maybe scale down on the number of teams.

  10. BAIE geluk HJPB met suksesvolle toernooi.
    Scrap cravenweek en gebruik Julie vakansie, ideal vir so bul van ‘n fees.
    Cravenweek spanne kan ander plan mee maak. Miskien u19 circuit gooi

  11. @Skopgraaf243: Ja, dan kan die agente sommer oorsese skolespelers recruit vir ons provinsies. Dink veral die Stormers het dit baie nodig!! :lol: :lol:

  12. @Riempies: at the moment there is no senior rugby in the Cape at this time. For years Boishaai has supported St John’s Festival. If you walk the St John’s facilities it is testimony of 3+ decades of the festival monies. My understanding of the Tournament was for Sean to leave a Legacy or shall we say more of a parting gift with the establishment of a new type of festival. Hopefully Carinat does not hijack his dream and take it all away. For a long time now Carinat has pushed this as a master stroke of HM. If they choose to do that it will be a disgrace. The Cape spectators frantically scrambled for tickets as it sold out very quickly. I personally believe we can increase capacity @ Brug street. Also might speed up future plans of the school and its facilities.

  13. I doubt very much if Mr Garrun (whoever he might be) attended the festival or spoke with any of the coaches or boys. I had the pleasure to chat with the coaches from Aus and the Napier Boys High and both enjoyed the festival from a rugby point of view and from a social perspective. The feedback was that the overseas boys especially enjoyed the after match get-togethers to mingle with our boys and chat about rugby.

    The marketing was perhaps over the top by the claims of “10 best schools from over the globe” and “schools world cup” and all, but we all know that marketing and branding a product seldom deals with reality, that is why it is called marketing! With better planning will come better opposition. There were plenty of ideas thrown around already on Saturday evening , all to better the quality of rugby.

    However, from a social and festival point of view I think it was a great success and most important, the schoolboys who attended enjoyed the few days in Paarl. For us locals it was very nice to see the likes of Monnas, Glenwood, Hilton and Affies down South as we don’t get to see them live very often.

    A damp squib Mr Garrun?..I think not!

  14. @BoishaaiPa: @odie15: He used to e a teacher/deputy principal at Highlands North in JHB – and then switched to journalism at The Star, writing among others about school sport.
    Have met him and he is not a bad guy. But he is way off with his view on this topic.

  15. @Djou: He also mentioned that the Easter festivals have lost out and the boys lost out because of the schools committed to the 150 Festival. Paul Roos canceled their invite to the 150 to attend St Johns!.The only regular Easter weekend participants that did not attend this year was Boishaai and Affies if I am not mistaken. Last year Boishaai came directly from a NZ tour and attended St Johns, so he cannot fault their commitment to St Johns either. What the boys experienced in Paarl with the overseas boys is very much on par what they would have at any Easter Festival. His article is more like a damp squib riddled with incorrect facts! :mrgreen:

  16. Having read his article I do not understand the vitriol directed at him.

    He has an opinion about the concept of the tournament. Not everyone has to be a praise singer if the matter concerns Boishaai. The marketing claims did not measure up to reality – that is the textbook definition of a “damp squib”.

    Everyone surely agree the matches on the first and third days were terrible, nobody even made a comment about the third day’s matches. I still believe my suggestion that schools such as Itembelihle should be invited to play against the weaker international teams – imagine what an impact participation in such a tournament would have on the boys in that team.

    The streaming was great, but the fact that the matches are not packaged individually and that the viewer cannot adjust the streaming quality is poor.

    Let us not become a group of sycophants.

  17. @Rainier: You are making valid points, in fact, all your points are valid.
    Most of us also raised these points, but there is a few things we need to consider.
    This was the first tournament of its kind in South Africa, so we should expect problems.
    Then, with schools withdrawing at a late stage made it difficult for organisers to find replacements. Third, we don’t appreciate all the work that goes into organising tournaments of this magnitude. It is a huge effort.
    The marketing was wrong – we all know that. And maybe the lights can improve.
    However, mr. Garrun is a journalist. And a good journalist will print both sides, in other words a balanced article. Some critical elements were ignored in his “opinion piece”, so for an outsider it would have been a no-brainer that this was a flop. So, it was a piece to influence people rather than giving the full picture.
    And that is the problem I have with his piece.
    As for the future, yes perhaps invite schools such as Itembelihle. But the invitations should be based on the purpose of the tournament. If it is going to be a strength vs strength, then other schools must be invited. If it is going to be a hybrid of strength vs strength and giving opportunities for development, then different schools should be invited. But that is the prerogaitve of the organisers.
    This year it was to celebrate Boishaai’s 150 years.
    Next year it will have to be something else – hence other schools can be invited. It will be great if non-traditional schools such as Itembelihle can participate, but again, the organisers should decide.
    My personal opinion is that the organisers are going the wrong way next year by scheduling it late in March. They will again compete with the Easter festivals and the NZ-teams will still not be up to scratch given that they wouldn’t have played any matches.
    So, why do they want to do that (late March)? It could have been later in April and replace e.g. Wildeklawer, whose lifetime is drawing at a close, in any case!

  18. @Djou: I think the difference is that he published an “opinion” piece on his personal blog, not as a newspaper columnist or as an article in a newspaper. He also did not, at any time, indicate that he attended the event. His was obviously a theoretical exersize.

    In any case, it was brilliant seeing GCB playing the brand of rugby we expect from the team. :-)

    And here in the Eastern Cape teams like Itembelihle is not a non-traditional school – the boys in the townships are just as likely to play with a rugby than a soccer ball.

  19. @BoishaaiPa: I fully agree with all your comments and then some. I don’t think he researched everything about the festival before writing his two cents. Does he realise that we would have had 4 NZ teams (Hamilton BHS – who have been the number 1 school in NZ over the last two decades – and Otago BHS). Some strong opposition from around the world could not make it because of the time constraints. As a person who attended one of the days of the festival, I thoroughly enjoyed the festival and the atmosphere between the schools and crowd was excellent. Even the spur burgers were better than any of the Spur burgers I have eaten at any festivals (This has no bearing in my argument but I just wanted to mention this :mrgreen: . I think the Spur in Paarl uses quality beef from the surrounding farms :lol: ). I of course was not happy that none of the southern suburb schools were not invited but that doesn’t take away from how good the festival was. To play against a touring team and to mingle with them is fantastic. Rugby is not everything (some people in Paarl and Stellenbosch would beg to differ :mrgreen: ) and the memories and the different cultural experiences the boys experienced were fantastic. When St Johns play any of the winelands schools, it’s rare to not see them getting hammered by 50 points or more but that doesn’t deter them from inviting them every year because it’s not just about the result.

  20. @Rainier: Come on..Perhaps if your beloved team from Bloem can once again claim top spot and beat Boishaai after 3 dry years your animosity towards them (Boishaai) will ease off a bit!..Jou onderrok hang darem lelik uit Meneer! :mrgreen: ..

  21. Boys High only started attending festivals in 1987 – before then it was unique to play teams outside of the province. So to assume that the status quo was always thus dont know the history. Everything has to start somewhere. Dont underestimate the effect this will have amongst the world wide rugby (school) community, enhanced through the streaming. It is amazing how many foreigners that attended the festival bought some of the Boys high rugby balls and hats (in fact at Cape Town airport this morning there was a young man that plays England schools with not only the festival ball, but also shorts). Not sure whether it is a good thing but so be it – the school needs funds and this may be one way to go.

  22. I think it’s funny how somebody that didn’t attend the festival can give a opinion on the festival, especially as to how the kids enjoyed it or not? The cheap shot at Boishaai also says something about Mr. Garrun. CW is billed as the best schoolboy talent in our country, I guess every CW is then a damp squib?

    Yes there were mismatches but over time it might get better. It looked like the kids had fun and the amount of support shows that the people in the Cape also enjoyed it. I also saw a few of the PRG first team boys at the festival. All the old boys games were very well supported and the Affies and Grey old boys were talking about making the old boys game a yearly event.

    In the end a festival is only successful if the public support it and personally I thought they are going to struggle pulling the public because people had to buy tickets before hand. I don’t know how many of the other festivals require people to buy tickets but for the sold out sign to go up the morning before the final day surprised me and it’s a testament to the support for the festival. If it was a damp squib nobody would have pitched on day four, especially not if they had to pay.

    Personally I enjoyed it immensely and most people I spoke to had a good time. I guess what really gets some people is the fact that Boishaai are also now the best school at hosting a rugby festival. :mrgreen:

  23. @BoishaaiPa: Ek hoop nie dit is al wat jy uit my posts wys geword het nie.

    Maar as dit is wat julle verlang:

    Dit was die beste rugbyfees nog ooit gewees, in die geskiedenis van die mens, in die hele heelal, ooit, sonder enige arguments, almal wat bygewoon het kan nou maar sterf want die res van hulle lewens gaan net ‘n teleurstelling wees, ek sou die wegraping opgegee het as dit met die fees gebots het…. :wink: :wink:

  24. @Rainier: Dit is darem nie al nie…maar dankie..Dis die 150 jaar…julle mag net nice wees met Boishaai!..Volgende jaar kan julle weer lelik raak! :mrgreen: …So van die os op die jas..Het jy die GOB’s se truie gesien waarmee hulle gespeel het?..Lekker versamelstuk.

  25. @Rainier: I agree with your assement of the blog, this isn’t life or death stuff, just a valid personal opinion. I for one didn’t attend but watched the live streaming, which wasn’t great for whatever reason. I’m not sure this program needs to be an annual event, it was however great to see the SA talent on display and get a feel for the SA sides this season.

  26. @BoishaaiPa: Nee, die feed teen 720p en die feit dat die wedstryde nie individueel beskikbaar is nie het my baie selektief gemaak oor wat ek gekyk het… Maar dit is nie kritiek nie, dis my fout dat ek nie uncapped internet het nie. 8)) Maar baie dankbaar dat Boishaai ons toegelaat het om streaming te kon kyk. :mrgreen:

    Het Tandmuis gespeel?

  27. I thought that the HJS festival was great. I always find it very interesting to see how the foreign sides do at our festivals.

    However, the problem with the longevity of this festival is that (apart from some NZ schools) no schools outside of SA are anywhere near good enough to compete with our top schools. Therefore, my recommendation would be as follows:
    1. As others have said, HJS could include some ‘less strong’ development teams (e.g. Schoonspruit, Itembelihle, etc) to play the weaker foreign teams. Perhaps six of SA’s top 10 schools and four less strong schools?
    2. Make the event every two or three years, so it does not become jaded. Also, I don’t think one could expect the foreign schools to come every year..
    3. Like with the Argentinian team and Hartpury, HJS could invite some rugby academies from countries other than NZ (where the schools are strong enough anyway) to increase the standard.

  28. @McCulleys Workshop: Some agree, some will not, that is why its called an opinion and nothing else..he has got his and I have mine and I can express my opinion just as much against his article as he can express his against the festival.

    The live streaming I watched on the Tuesday and Friday had no problems and I could stream in HD and go back and watch other games that I missed and look at the interviews. Perhaps the streaming issue was more to do with your ISP. I have a fibre connection so that might have eliminated some of the speed problems. I can recall last year when I was still watching SBR via ADSL that is was frustrating at best with a lot of mother buffering and low quality picture.

  29. @Rainier: Nee o herre..Hy is te bang sy vingertjies kry seer..Wouter du Toit was wel deel van die squad en het so rondgetrippel langs die veld dat Struwie hom gouer as later moes opsit anders het hy iemand langs die veld gedonner van opgewondenheid!..

  30. Personally i fee that the festival over and above the Day 1 and Day 3 specifically match ups was a great event and by the looks of it well organised and enjoyed by all that attended. Not everyday I take time from business and follow all the matches on streaming as i did. So yes PBH and crew well done was a excellent event.

    Lot of the guys on the blog know this by now that i have a massive issue with exclusivity and that normal non traditional schools get left behind with rugby in this country. Exclusivity through years of the political dispensation should be a great example why we have so much problems so why be exclusive in the sport loved by so many in this country.

    That’s the reason our club system is what it is nowadays as rugby has become a exclusive sport and becoming more and more so everyday. Unions after school go even further and destroy the sport so much more.

    Just my little 2 cents from a excluded point of view. :wink: :wink: :wink:

  31. One thing I did notice was that the Argie players did not understand a word of English, or they ignored me completely..They however did try and converse with my 22 year old blond daughter next to me in any way possible…even Afrikaans!

  32. @MikeSt: I understand wholeheartedly where you are coming from, myself coming from a rugby loving non-tradional rugby school. However, and this is unfortunately the reality nowadays, top brands attract the crowds and sponsors. You will not be able to attract the crowds you did if you had second and third tier schools playing and you need revenue to make it viable. For every 1 old boy or supporter out there for a non traditional school, you have at least 100 more for the well known ones. That is the facts and however much you want to bring exclusivity to an end, it does serve a purpose in others trying to strive and achieve the same. Excellence don’t get achieved by dragging everyone down to the same level, it gets achieved by trying to be the best all the time.

  33. @BoishaaiPa: Wholeheartedly agree with you. That is one of the reasons that your normal day schools vary in power from year to year as they cannot afford it due to lack of old boy involvement and funding. Due to old boy funding in a lot of cases traditional schools can afford the high standard they maintain on a year to year basis. I have to say i envy them for being in such a situation as the playing field will never be even between traditional and non traditional.

    I differ on the point though of excellence being dragged down as exactly with certain unions today they have 7 of 8 guys in one position. Traditional schools many times have boys in a certain position playing in their c and d teams that could have developed in another school and maybe be just as good if not better than the high profile school kid.

    My philosophy on this is why would you send your boy if talented to play c or d team same as why do you want to send your kid to the Bulls that recruit 60 u19’s

  34. @MikeSt: I do agree that we can do much more to develop our talent especially in areas where communities didn’t play rugby traditionally or where the structures especially as far as coaching goes is not that strong. Seven’s and rip rugby also comes to mind. Rip rugby is huge in New Zealand and boys and girls can compete together. It gives any young child the basics of rugby to pass and attack space.

    As far as traditional schools vs non traditional rugby schools go I guess there will be good arguments for both. I still think our biggest problem is the lack of development at primary school level and our club system. The lack of a good club system has made our schools our feeder system for the pro unions. I think it’s a big mistake and clubs should be the next step after school. They should stop the u/19 and u/21 CC and we should only have a u/20 comp like in the varsity cup. It will safe a lot of money and broaden the base to give more players a chance to make it in pro rugby. Fact is with the weak Rand we are going to see a huge turnover in players and like Brazil in soccer we will have to find a way to keep them coming to supply the Springboks and the rest of the world. SARU should also ask the IRB to make the requirements to play for a adopted country stricter, not impossible but harder.

  35. @MikeSt: how did we get to exclusive here? I believe invitations were sent out schools RSVP? I attended Boishaai in the ’80s it was not an exclusive school then. It was closest English medium school to my father’s farm. We were 100 boys. The seasons back then the Southern suburbs dominated CW players we had 1 or 2 players a year. Interschools made the rivalry and 30 years on we see what has happened. What happened to the Cape schools I don’t know. What happened to Natal schools I don’t know. The Old boys union is strong yes. I believe its due to work Mr Tom Engela did. If you can get your hands on the 150 year book his determination to forge a school from his time in ’70s until his retirement in 1989 is amazing. This was a celebration. Yes teams were mismatched and schools were limited. It is time for everyone to have pride in their roots and return to their school. Build on what you had and give back.

  36. @Die Ken: @Bush: good news is Napier decided they would continue to play in Capetown. They played against Rondebosch yesterday. RONDEBOSCH 31-28 Napier.

  37. @odie15: Maybe read my post again as you now act like a grade 1 teacher that focuses on 1 word naming exclusive and then try and understand what i was saying and also maybe the intro on my 1st post. Boishaaipa that also been around here for a while understands where i am coming from not only now but also over the past 5 years.

    The value of old boys must never be underestimated and that is why day or semi day schools like EGJ, Waterkloof, Garsies, Menlo and many more will never have a decent old boys setup such as the Traditional schools. Irrespective if they have a driver of the initiative.

  38. @MikeSt: I can maybe answer your question about talented boys playing in C or D teams. Its all about the reputation of schools (speaking about Eastern Cape). When I played, if you weren’t playing for one of the premier schools in the region, you would be overlooked by the EP CW selectors, regardless of talent. For example, a close friend of mine was an unbelievable 9 and went to EP CW trials. He made every other 9 look stupid but because he didn’t represent a premier school, he got overlooked and the Framesby 9 got the starting spot. Had he played for one of the top ranked schools in the country, I would have bet my house on my friend making SA schools.

    Because of these type of selection issues, in my final 2 years, our coaches told us that they would no longer send players to CW trails (and we had 3-4 excellent prospects) knowing they would be overlooked. This creates massive problems for lesser schools attracting talent, because parents and schools boys know they have no hope of being recognised and parents believe their boys will have better options playing for 2nd or 3rd team at a premier school than playing for a lesser team where the boy could probably walk into the first team.


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