Glenwood 33 Kirkham Grammar 5 : Match Report

It would have been misleading to say that Glenwood played the perfect game of rugby to beat UK school Kirkham 33-5 on Dixons field but in many respects it was the perfect way to get their third term rugby program underway. The reason being, without stretching Glenwood too much, Kirkham proved to be worthy adversaries and tested Glenwood well in many departments.

Right from the start it was evident that Glenwood were a bit rusty. A good number of their moves were ended by handling errors or misdirected passes as the understanding amongst the players just wasn’t quite there yet. The home team’s setpiece work was also not altogether satisfactory. Yet the score-line says that against reasonable difficult opponents they did extremely well. It was mainly in unstructured open play that Glenwood found their touring opponents wanting and did most of the damage.

Kirkham had a decent sized pack and offered a useful challenge in scrums, lineouts, rolling mauls and any form of tight loose exchanges. They were however weaker than anticipated in a few areas. Firstly there was a lot of room for improvement in their backline play. Handling was good but the backs did not show enough enthusiasm and as a result did not do enough to threaten the advantage line. Kirkham forwards seemed content to give hard earned ball to their backs a measurable distance behind the breakdown point and were seldom rewarded for this unselfishness. With some big lads in the back division, one would have anticipated more straight hard running with pace injected or even old school crashball  tactics by the Englishmen. Instead the line tended to operate at three-quarter speed and lacked x-factor. Perhaps the forwards should have reconsidered their generosity as the midfield did not look like they had the ability to take the game to Glenwood, whereas the pack often did.

Kirkham did move the ball nicely through the hands a few times but in the second half this just served to highlight a second weakness, their inability to identify and exploit overlap opportunities out wide. Several obvious chances to put their outside backs away went amiss either because players inexplicably chose to hold onto the ball or kick it away.  And thirdly their tactical kicking game was not good at all. More often than not poorly placed kicks did little to put Glenwood under pressure and with no real challenge presented by kick chasers, Kirkham should have focused more intently on reorganising their defensive structures to negate counterattacks but didn’t do a wonderful job of this either. Glenwood fullback Makazi had a few good punt return runs but it was Stopforth’s superb 60-metre solo effort try at the end of the match, manufactured from an aimless kick, that provided the best example of the poor kicking and subsequent defending of Kirkham.

Finally there was a period in the first half when Kirkham conceded penalty after penalty in quick succession. Many of these were for ruck infringements and were possibly intentionally done to slow down play or perhaps the result of the interpretation of the laws here in South Africa.

However as mentioned the Kirkham team had size, skills and looked to have plenty of potential as well. With room for improvement they would be any coach’s dream to take control of. Certainly with a bit of work, this same team could do very well against KwaZulu-Natal Tier 1 teams including Glenwood. To their credit they also kept Glenwood scoreless for the first 24 minutes of play.

Whenever Glenwood lifted the tempo, they saw results in the form of healthy go-forward. It was however more a case of individualistic skills than teamwork that got them over the gain-line. The Grasshoppers also had numerous kickable penalties but turned these down in order to attack with the ball in hand. The first two tries came from the unlikeliest of sources. Lock Viljoen was able to dive over after Makazi had done some very good tidy up work to save the offensive in the red zone. Viljoen’s next try six minutes later was simply outstanding. The lanky lock collected a ball that had initially been gifted to Glenwood by a poor kick and took off on a long run from inside his own half. The half-time score of 12-0 was respectable.

Kirkham may have been guilty of not making better use of their wings but Glenwood’s Ncgobo had to do the most apologising on the day when he failed to release two players lined up on the overlap outside him. Instead of passing he held on and died with the ball.  The attacking continued and Captain Marne Coetzee was prominent in the driving play that led to Glenwood’s third try shortly thereafter. From a ruck near the line poor handling once again resulted in the ball going to ground before an alert Mazibuko picked it up and carried it over. This took the score up to 19-0.

Kirkham responded with their only points of the game which stemmed from two of their strong points on the day. A simple yet effective lineout and the well co-ordinated rolling maul that followed. The unconverted try temporarily narrowed the deficit to 19-5.

Although Glenwood enjoyed a good deal of the territory and possession, they struggled to convert the advantage into points. A final forward pass denied Kay, who’d come on as a substitute for Viljoen, a try in the left corner. The replacement was rewarded for his persistence a few minutes later when flyhalf Potgieter offloaded a perfect and well-disguised pop pass to the charging flanker, who’s run from deep had gone unnoticed by the Kirkham defence. Kay crossed the line without any resistance. It was the umpteenth Glenwood opportunity that had come about as a result of a poor kick and subsequent failure by Kirkham to halt the advancing kick returner before he had put his team back on to the front foot. The score climbed to 26-5 once Potgieter succeeded with the conversion as part of 80% strike rate on the day. The flyhalf’s kicking out of hand in the second half was also of very high standard in terms of distance and accuracy.

Winger Derwent Stopforth had made useful contributions in the build up to several tries and deserved his dues at the end. The wing used of his speed but also kept his thinking cap on as he beat a few defenders along the way to scoring under the sticks. The game ended at 33-5 once Potgieter had slotted the conversion.

Glenwood has three tough encounters coming up in the form of Affies, Grey Bloem and College. This game was ideal preparation for those matches. For Kirkham there was some good things to learn from this game. Certainly if they had kept the ball in hand, focused more intently on getting over the gain-line, made better use of the wings and employed a wiser kicking strategy, they definitely had the personnel on their team to push Glenwood a lot harder. Their good win against SACS is a good indication that they are probably a better team than their performance on the day in Durban suggested.


  1. Photos of the 1st team & U15 games against Kirkham (and some of the ones against KZN Development) are up on my site already – the rest will follow this evening.

  2. Glenwood Guys – I have copied & pasted a comment from Kirkam Grammars ‘ blog site about the Glenwoods Sports facilities and Surrounds’

    “Glenwood HS’s hospitality was outstanding, the staff and boys were incredibly well looked after throughout the days games. “The school also has one of the most incredible campuses to be seen in any part of the world with very need of a sportsman catered for. I hope we get to see Glenwood staff and teams again as it seemed that everybody forget friendships.”

    On a another note have a look at their blog site about the 1st game – they feel they could have beaten Glenwood

    Google – “Kirkam Grammar South African Rugby tour” and have a look at their comments on Saturdays games – interesting reading this

  3. @Greenwood: I don’t think I gave Glenwood enough credit for the many things they did right during this game. Their defence was very solid. My feeling is that had this been Glenwood’s second game of the term, their score would have been a lot higher. Apart from the pass that cost Kay and the ball that did not go out on to the overlap, there were a few other passes that didn’t go to hand. Glenwood may have still scored from these same field positions a little later on but valuable time was used up by the initial mishandling.

    It also surprised me that the Kirkham coaches that patrolled the sidelines had so little to say to their players when they made poor decisions. The were at least 2 excellent overlap opportunities that went abegging and a few meaningless kicks, yet the coaches remained tjoepstil. It was almost like they had not seen the obvious for themselves and therefore couldn’t share any insight with their players. Sorry maybe I’m being harsh but that’s how I witnessed it.

  4. I thought that Kirkham in the first 20 minutes or so , where better then GW , if I was the coach I would have had lots to say about changing the way they should have attached . as mentioned aimless kicking and average speed by the centers was the down fall, they certainly seemed to be able to participate on an equal footing in phases or play barring the backline,
    If the big centers had run more crash ball, and not kicked the result could have been a lot closer,
    Eventually we have found a lock , don’t know why it took so long , Dint miss Kay at all, Kobus has great speed agility and both the height and weight . what a find, a lot like last year with the inclusion of Brad McNeil
    Again ou back line doesn’t attack or have any x factor, all they seem to do it make runs out of depth and hope like hell a gap or opportunity will evolve as the run onto the defense

  5. Throughout the game Kirkham’s defence was immense and caused Glenwood to make many errors. The front row of John Windle, Ryan Wilkinson and Phil Cringle destroyed the highly rated Glenwood front row including the former South African Schools u.18 prop Marne Coetzee
    I think lots is said here by outsiders , and considering where we are going over the next three weeks, and one wonders , did these “imports” really work for us
    Grade 11 boys are fearful already that “Management” is out scouting for new Purchases,
    Rumor Has it that GW has lost the u16 Captain to Hilton, a certainty for 1st team next year , quote “ is so over GW” disappointment on one of our leaders , I really hope the OLD BOYS control this
    We really don’t need a year next year like we had this one

  6. @Grasshopper: i heard he was , the u16 locks looked good and the loose trio , pretty big boys , good ball carriers , its a question of where are all the u16 players from last year and how they have been distributed amongst all the senior teams this year, I think this could have been more disruptive for them then imagined
    I personally don’t think planning went into this team (u16) from last year, for me they should have retained positions and not swopped them around assuming because they are good in one position they will automatically be goof in another. They should have put or taken the sacrifice and put this team as the 3rds, and used them as a team, working together for next year, then mixing them with the u16 of this year would have been far better, but they didn’t do this, and have to start from scratch for next year, and this has put GW back, IMHO , in terms of preparation
    Also hear Sean has been Told to “go back to school” so to speak , and that he needs to define the difference between U20 and school boy rugby and that the same game patterns don’t mix , funny how we were saying this earlier in the year

  7. @greenhopper – talking about playing patterns etc, IMHO, that is the sole sourse of GW average results this past year, I distinctly remember a discussions on 365 arround this issue and mention was made of the 50/50 offloads in contact etc – cast your mind back to the Westville game and all the attempts at offloads – the sharks finally got that game going this past weekend – i must admit it does look spectacular when it comes together but the question is – if it takes a professional outfit like the sharks super team a season to get it done correctly, how can you expect it from school boys. In my opinion, had GW stuck to a more direct, simple game plan with effective runners, it would have been a different season all together – imports or no imports – if they imported 30% of the team i could lay the blame on them and the disrution they might have caused but to say three disrupted the team to such an extent that it caused them to have a poor season is a bit far fetched…IMHO

  8. @Greenhopper: since the beginning of the season, and as the season draws to a closes, and issue that could be looking at rearing its head again
    Part 1: I as everyone knows I have been vehemently opposed to purchasing players, especially in the grade 11 year, it lends itself to mistrust and brings in the question of loyalty, whilst it has been discussed at length about how boys appear on the scene, I think we all agree if the boys come or reasons other than trying to further his career at the expense of other scholars. It is noted in you posting that this is school boy and not professional, hence this should be stuck to, and some schools applied the law against GW , some say it was in existence at all, but the threat on destroying fixture next year or relationships or if it did exist prompted the exclusion of Marne.
    It was noted that he came down to GW and the expense of , IMHO , a better playing forward, who returned to R/Bay. Many have chastised me on my views , but it takes now outsiders to see the point I was trying to make all year , I think that this has been and additional, not the only cause, but an addition to the average season GW have had ,
    And I am hoping this practice doesn’t follow through to next year , or we will experience the same if not worse results
    Part 2: Patterns of Play , agree with you , the boys should have stuck with patterns that they understand and can express themselves within , it’s the same as doing school, and THEN DOING VARSITY, you can’t do the one before going through the other. I thought Sean didn’t see it this way and was trying to leapfrog the system and it turned and bit him, it terms of results and his own career looks like from what I have heard, but I could be wrong on this one.
    In Summary let’s look since 2006 , the year GW beat Grey , a Build up to the 2008 Dream team, who had been the coaches prior to this for the foundation phase of these teams, Certainly not Sean , but I am sure Toppy and others, there is where the brains trust sits and exists in the school, look at MHS , school teachers and the best results this year , lot shave to be said for understanding boys. Since 2008 , the GW season have not quiet reached the same acclaim, When did Sean take over , draw the conclusions, now 5 years later , these boys whom have had wonderful season up till this year , just seemed to hang ,

  9. @greenhopper – so when did Sean start at Glenwood and where was he previous to Glenwood?

  10. @Boxkick, I think Sean started at Glenwood in about 2001, so about 11 years. He has done an exceptional job in improving the overall rugby at Glenwood with a more professional approach and set-up. He is not an Old Boy and not sure where he was before but is now highly regarded in KZN coaching circles. However, all good things come to an end and he probably needs to move up to higher levels now. A decade in the job is a long time and sometimes teams need fresh ideas. I am by no means saying he should go but that maybe some fresh ideas from an assistant or him grooming a new coach over the next few seasons would be great. I always prefer an Old Boy/teacher coaching as they fully understand the ethos of the school. Just imagine if John Allan had the time to coach there, he would be a huge inspiration to the boys.

  11. @greenhopper – its a pretty tricky one it seems, Sean has delivered well yet this season by the sound of things was average – how did this season compare to others comparing apples to apples – GW lost to Westville and Kearsney locally and to Grey PE, Paarl Gym and Outiniqua…they also beat Monnas and drew against Dale – and a draw first time round against College…looks like familliar pattern to last year and the year before no?

  12. @Boxkick, this year was the first time we lost to Westville in about 6 years and Kearsney in about 5, so straight away it’s different. Secondly we have not played Grey PE so could not have lost that one. We have also usually beaten Outeniqua in the past. Paarl Gym we expected to lose. Monnas has had a very weak year so that win is not what is seems. Here are this years results, we usually win more than 70% of our games and this year it’s currently played 18, won 11, lost 5 and drawn 2 only 61% win rate with Affies, College away and Grey Bloem at home coming so probably will drop again.

    1 Westville 9 13 L
    2 Michaelhouse 14 13 W
    3 Noord Kaap 18 13 W
    4 Framesby 7 22 L
    5 Potch Volkskool 33 19 W
    6 Monument 25 18 W
    7 Dale College 24 24 D
    8 Queens College 32 12 W
    9 George Campbell 34 19 W
    10 Hilton 19 18 W
    11 Paarl Gim 25 35 L
    12 Outeniqua 12 32 L
    13 Northwood 20 8 W
    14 Kearsney 14 20 L
    15 Pinetown 74 0 W
    16 DHS (OB’s Day) 34 9 W
    17 College 16 16 D
    18 Kirkham Grammar 33 5 W
    19 Affies
    20 College
    21 Grey Bloem

    That said, the schedule is crazy and the quality of opposition extremely tough. Hopefully in future years they plan this better and get a few more easier games…

  13. I have asked that GW be allowed to play Dale, Paarl Gim, Outeniqua, Kearsney, Affies and Grey Bloem in the weeks immediately before playing Northwood :wink:

  14. @GRASSHOPPER – I understand…when u played Monnas they missed Massyn only though…and last year you lost to GC….You also won all three games in Argentina against club sides older than your boys…I am saying you can never really compare like on like as you dont for sure play the same schools at festivals etc…but that the pattern shows pretty much the same through the years…its like that with most schools…

  15. @ greenhopper
    The captain as in J.C??
    He’s a big lad and was injured during kzn trials, probably wouldve been picked

  16. u15s had a really bad season, didnt seem to have the fitness to play a full game with intensity.
    they lost to everyone besides Kearsney, port natal and other small tier 2 schools.e

    u16s were ok. played 15 won 10 lost 5.
    they should have beaten College, Kearsney and Glenwood.
    will get results for you later


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