By their standards 2018 wasn’t a great year for HTS Middelburg. Sometimes it’s the adverse that presents the climate for positive changes though. Judging by the way the Mpumalanga powerhouse have approached the offseason, it look like they are determined to up their game. A new look coaching staff with a fresh new approach will take charge of a team with tremendous potential and boy does their fixture list for 2019 look exciting.
Interestingly the new 1st XV coaching team was announced months ago, giving a clear indication of just how proactive and goal-orientated HTS Middelburg have set out to become.
Experienced Gert Lindeque will take charge of the 1st XV. Gert needs no introduction. He’s been there and done that and is well known in Noordvaal rugby circles. A strong personality with a good rugby brain.
He’ll be assisted by Tik Cilliers, who had previously been part of the HTS team that won the Tuksreeks in 2013.
Coene Nolte, a former provincial rugby player has coached various junior teams at HTS over the years and enjoyed a fair deal of success. From 2015 to 2017 he was the 1st XV coach and he’s also had a stint as a Pumas Craven Week coach. After spending 2018 with the u14’s he will re-enter the fray as the defence coach – this is one of the specialised coaching areas that the Rooibulle are focussing a lot more intently on nowadays.
Deon van Straaten, is another of the experienced coaches who has been reintroduced to 1st XV rugby as the team manager. His track record speaks for itself. He knows HTS’s structures inside out.
Biokineticist Elric Pretorius emphasises that HTS are keen to set a high standard. He was headhunted from Namibia and is already having an impact with very evident results showing amongst the players. Strength and fitness have been target areas for the rugby programme and mental toughness is also high on the agenda.
2019 team’s achievements coming up through the age-groups
In 2018, between 8 and 10 u17 players picked up valuable experience with the Rooibulle 1st XV
u14 (2015) – Beeld Makro schools quarterfinalists
u15 (2016) – Beeld Makro schools semifinalists
u16 (2017) – Virsekerbeker quarterfinalists
2nd XV (2018) – although combined with the matrics, the u17s did ever so well to help the team finish second in the new format Virsekerbeker, losing only to Monnas.
Also worth noting, as juniors, the age-group was undefeated at Wildeklawer from 2015 to 2017.
A player well worth keeping an eye on next year is flank Juandre Odendaal. He has already proved to be a real “yster”. Others who should impress are Mariano de Villiers, Edwin Till and Gerhard Taljaard.
There are some quality under-16’s on the way up as well: the likes of Alec Vermaak, Marthinus Oosthuizen, Norrman Simpson, Zander Eyssell and Cyle Visagie. JW Mare was part of the SARU Green Squad training camp, picked after Grant Khomo Week.
Unfortunately for HTS rugby, three of their big name players were poached during the course of the year and will feature for other schools’ 1st XVs in 2019.
Tuksreeks replaced by interschools friendlies
It was sad to say farewell to the Tuksreeks in 2018. However it has opened the door for schools like HTS to explore new avenues and even touch bases old acquaintances.
Two of the major talking points on the 2019 fixture list are bound to be matches against Affies and Grey College, two of the biggest and best rugby schools in SA.
Starting way back in 1950, the Affies match was once a regular feature but between the Tuksreeks and the Virsekerbeker commitments, the opportunity to play Affies fell away. The head-to-head currently stands at P39 W12 L24 D3, which is actually a really good record for any school anywhere to have against the Witbulle from Pretoria. It speaks volumes about where HTS fitted as a strong team, a level to which they are now working hard to return to.
It seems like HTS only had three matches against Grey College in the past. They failed to register a point in 1992 and 1997. In 2015 at the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival, they fought back bravely and were unlucky to lose by 3-points after Grey landed the winning penalty at the death.
Lots of respect to the Rooibulle for opting to play these “groot honde!”
There was a time in the recent past when HTS would square up against Nellies, their biggest Pumas region rivals at least twice per season. With the Rhinos having been relegated from the Virsekerbeker Cup in 2018, chances were that the two wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet even once in 2019. Fortunately there is a good healthy relationship between both schools, who often seem to bring out the best in each other’s play.
Unfortunately for a second year running the big local derby is a no-go as the school were unable to find a suitable date.
2019 Fixture List
|Sat 02Mar||HTS Middelburg||Rustenburrg|
|Tue 05Mar||Affies||HTS Middelburg|
|Sat 09Mar||Eldoraigne||HTS Middelburg|
|Sat 16Mar||HTS Middelburg||TBA||Oakdale Festival|
|Mon 18Mar||HTS Middelburg||TBA||Oakdale Festival|
|Wed 20Mar||HTS Middelburg||TBA||Oakdale Festival|
|Sat 06Apr||Grey College||HTS Middelburg|
|Sat 13Apr||HTS Middelburg||Nelspruit|
|Thu 18Apr||HTS Middelburg||Drostdy||Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival|
|Sat 20Apr||HTS Middelburg||Noord-Kaap||Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival|
|Mon 22Apr||HTS Middelburg||Pretoria BH||Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival|
|Sat 27Apr||HTS Middelburg||Kempton Park|
|Sat 04May||HTS Middelburg||Noordheuwel||The VB Cup|
|Sat 11May||Garsfontein||HTS Middelburg||The VB Cup|
|Sat 18May||HTS Middelburg||Transvalia||The VB Cup|
|Sat 25May||HTS Middelburg||EG Jansen||The VB Cup|
|Sat 08Jun||HTS Middelburg||Helpmekaar||The VB Cup|
|Sat 13Jul||Glenwood||HTS Middelburg|
|Sat 20Jul||Menlopark||HTS Middelburg||The VB Cup|
|Sat 27Jul||Monument||HTS Middelburg||The VB Cup|
|Sat 10Aug||Possible Virsekerbeker Semifinal|
|Sat 17Aug||Possible Virsekerbeker Final|