Big Ronnie’s 41kg weight loss now ranks second in amazing metamorphoses at DHS

Ronnie Uys is fondly remembered as Flippie van der Merwe / Uini Atonio category prop from his provincial rugby playing days. These days amongst other things, he’s a top coach at club and school level; back working at Durban High School for another spell after enjoying much success the last time around, during their renaissance which produced the likes of Sharks captain Phepsi Buthelezi and talented scrummy Sanele Nohamba.

A recent Born to Dominate Weight Loss Facebook post about Ronnie reads like this:

high blood pressure healed, gout healed, 32cm fat lost around the stomach, a record breaking 41kg weight loss in 12 weeks and went back to playing rugby

An amazing body transformation!

Assistant coach Ronnie may soon have to ensure the insults of being mistaken for a backline coach if he continues on his current path. :mrgreen:

As incredible as the 41kg achievement is, there is another potentially bigger turnaround story busy writing itself in Essenwood, involving the Durban High School 1st XV, whose compass is now pointing true North after a very shaky start to their 2022 campaign.

Given their slow start to the season, by mid-April anyone would have been forgiven for believing that “School” would be competing for the province’s wood-spoon. That pretty much sums up just how quickly they have come right under the guidance of new head coach Peter Engledow, whose past experience includes coaching the Griquas in the Currie Cup and Paarl Boys’ High.

DHS have now just broken their Goldstones field record on the way to beating their oldest KZN rivals Maritzburg College 38-14 on Saturday, 23 April 2022. Making this victory impressive is that College are a decent team this season.

This big win follows hard on the heels of what was at the time defined as an over-achievement at the recent Kearsney Easter Festival, where DHS won two out of three, including a very respectable narrow defeat to Monument, one of the best teams in the country this year. Their form earned them the Team of the Festival award.

In terms of schoolboy rugby, this kind of extreme change in fortunes is quite unusual.

It is evident that the team has clicked.

There is a lot of work ahead but if they can keep it up, they are destined to finish in the Top 20 this season, which will be no mean feat, given how competitive schools in that same bracket are in 2022.

Next up is the new environment of the ABSA Wildeklawer tournament in Kimberley. This will be followed by a very challenging month of May fixtures as well as the main portion of the KZN youth week trials, where many of the players look certain to be in the reckoning for places.


  1. Yes it’s been an amazing start to the season Beet. When I saw the early season schedule of Waterkloof / EG Jansen / Monnas and then College at Goldstones I have to admit that I thought we may have some damaging losses. To come away from all those games with wins and a just a 2 point loss to Monnas has been pretty phenomenal. Ronnie and Peter are obviously saying something right in the changeroom because there is no hesitation in the boys’ play and judging by their body language there is a lot of belief in their capability. There is some real talent in that backline though – they are difficult to contain when they get going and will be good to see them in the dry weather. It doesn’t get any easier with the next 4 matches against Menlo, Oakdale, Hilton and Michaelhouse. Thanks for the write up Beet.

  2. Ronnie isn’t quite ready for the cover of Men’s Health but he has done very well with the weight loss. :wink:

  3. @Henkies: Big change in gears from first two or three matches. Also seem to have a few new faces playing…..were these guys injured at the start of season or new recruits? I heard lots of Afrikaans being thrown around by the DHS boys at KERF.

  4. Hi Jakkals yes good question and one I have been trying to find out. I was not able to see any of this team at u16 and u15 level with very few matches being played with the disrupted seasons in 2020 and 2021 so it’s been difficult to identify new players that may have joined in the last 2 seasons. This team has been strong in u14 and u15 though and I know DHS was hoping to continue that at 1st team level. Saying that, there are a few Afrikaans names in the forwards so it could be the case that there have been some new joiners but unfortunately I don’t have the specific intel on that. Sheesh take me back to the 90s were schools just played who they got…too competitive these days

  5. @Jakkals: Very Good question. DHS has flown under the radar when it comes to being in the spotlight for recruitment and how much they do. A little bird told me that there was a new face in the forward pack that previously played for a first team at another school.

  6. @Henkies: Rugby has become a viable option as a career so the sport itself cannot be seen as schoolboy winter fun as in the 90’s.

  7. @Jong Matie haha you are right. Very good way of looking at it actually. And yes judging by Peter Engledow’s record he is obviously in the elite coaching category. DHS is very lucky to have him.

  8. @Pamos: I think I could put together a really good team of all the players who have joined various KZN top tier schools at 1st XV level recently.

    Its not just in KZN either, its happening in the Gauteng, in Bloem, in the Western Cape. Schools in the E/Cape have also benefited from acquiring new 1st XV players.

    We had the days when recruitment after gr 8 was frown upon, to the time of shaking our heads at the Grant Khomo poaching and now its at the stage where acquiring players for just one 1st XV season is no longer unusual. Soon this will be accepted as the norm.

    The time to do organise and anything about it has past. All that’s left now is for those who disapprove to sympathise with the schools who were hoping to retain the players they have lost.

  9. 41kg is almost the weight of a u.13 backline scrummie. WoW!
    And more than Zola Budd’s weight when she broke the 2000m world record – 36kg.

  10. The game against MBC was amazing. That backline had them grasping at air. Def some new faces it seems but as we know all schools have to keep working to keep competitive teams. Either that or fall behind.

  11. The key is the pack though. As the saying goes, it all starts up front. That’s what Northwood had in their dream season in 2019 and even the 2020 team. Schools like Hilton and Westville have this figured out and so did MBC last year. It doesn’t matter how great the backline is if the pack isn’t going forward. It always tells in the 2nd half. The bigger packs starts to take its toll and the scoreline doubles by the end. DHS have that this year and now the backline to capitalize as well.

  12. Who exactly are the new faces? I took a look at the team sheets from the game against Voortrekker and Kearsney and the backline looks exactly the same except for 9 but the new 9(who is in matric) has been at DHS since grade 8(replaced the grade 11 9 who I believe has also been at DHS since grade 8). The forwards that played against Kearsey, 5 has moved to 7 and the new 5 that came in is grade 11 and has also been at DHS since grade 8. 1 also changed from the Kearsney game but again the replacement was u16 at DHS last year.

  13. Yes new to the school I meant. I think almost the entire starting team have been at DHS at least since u16 though, so they have done really well to build up. With Covid no one really saw them play but now at open age group with Grade 11 and grade 12 boys to chose from they have put together a great team. I believe Pietersen and Willemse are new to the school and were obv. strategic 1st team acquisitions. Willemse played Pumas u16 last year against the KZN Grant Khomo team at Kings Park. They would have spotted him there. Good player.

  14. @beet: Would be interesting to see who your top picks would be from the first half of the season. Maybe a coastal side vs an inland side selection?


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