The 2016 schoolboy rugby season is once again upon us.
The Easter-Weekend festivals is usually seen as the official kick off where everything starts to get serious!
Following the Easter Weekend, the Mutual & Federal Premier Interschools begins.
This year’s competition will once again feature some of the top schoolboy rugby teams in the country in 12 matches stretching from the 9th April to the 27th August.
No fewer than 7 out of last year’s top 11 out of the top 20 schools will be featured at a time in Premier Interschools matches.
The undisputed No 1 ranked team of 2015, Paarl Boys High, will feature in three tough encounters against their old traditional rivals. Other teams that will also be showcased is Grey College (2 Games), Paul Roos (3 Games), Paarl Gim (2 Games), Maritzburg College (2 Games), Grey High (2 Games), Monument (2 Games) while the likes of Affies, KES, Waterkloof, Glenwood, Boland Landbou, Oakdale, Bishops and Rondebosch will each appear in one game.
The planned fixtures for the year are as follows:
Paul Roos vs Grey High – 9/04/2016: Markotter Field Paul Roos, Stellenbosch
Paul Roos has a new look about it with a new coach and only two players from last season in their team. They start the new campaign with a new coach in Stephan Jordaan after SA Schools coach Hein Kriek departed to coach professional rugby.
SA Schools number 10 Damian Willemse and Fullback Josh Vermuelen are once again part of the team this year.
These two players will be the key to Jordaan’s attacking strategy.
Grey High of Port Elizabeth are expected to bring their trademark explosive backline this season.
They have key loosie and SA Schools player Kewzi Mafu back in the pack.
He is seen as a key player in their setup and has all the attributes of a good loose forward.
Paarl Gim vs Paul Roos – 16/04/2016: JA Kriel Field, Paarl Gim, Paarl
An old rivalry will be reignited when Paarl Gim face Paul Roos.
Like Paul Roos, Paarl Gim also has a new coach this season in old boy Pieter Rossouw.
Paarl Gim will look to highly gifted young utility back Muller Du Plessis to be the arrow in their backline. While they still have the services of several players from last year’s team including scrumhalf Zak Burger, fullback Wian van Zyl and flyhalf Theo Boshoff who also has some 1st team experience.
8th man Muller Uys is also available and he will undoubtedly be a leader of the pack and the key man in their forwards.
King Edward VII vs Maritzburg College – 07/05/2016: KES. Johannesburg
After a 2 week break Premier Interschools returns with King Edward VII taking on Maritzburg College.
KES will somewhat be of an unknown factor in 2016 as they hope to re-establish themselves as one of the top dogs in the Northvaal region.
College are the favourites in this fixture with an established coach in Kevin Smith in his second year.
While several players return for the second year in the first team.
Wing Xolisa Guma, Flyhalf Ruben van Blerk, Scrumhalf Lodewyk Muller (Son of ex Bok and Sharks prop Lood Muller), 8th man Craig Clover and powerful Cameroonian born flanker Durand Atembe are some of the players to look out for in the College side.
Monument vs Waterkloof – 14/05/2016: Monument High Krugersdorp
A week later we bring you a first for Premier Interschools. Monument High from Krugersdorp against the elite Waterkloof outfit.
The Krugersdorp Witbulle are expected to yet again be a formidable and very useful team. Players to watch include Nathan McBeth (Academy Week prop), Ruan Vermaak (Craven Week lock), Ryno Potgieter (Academy Week Flank), Xander Kruger (Craven Week flyhalf) and MJ Pelser (Craven Week centre) amongst a number of returning 1st XV players.
Waterkloof has been off the boil for a while after being one of Pretoria’s powerhouse schools the last 20 years.
Paarl Boys High vs Grey College – 21/05/2016: Brug Street Paarl
Mid May brings us one on the most anticipated games for 2016. Grey College from Bloemfontein travels down to Paarl to face a confident Paarl Boys. The latter having come from a dream season last year by going undefeated and ending up No 1 in the country. Grey will not easily forgive the loss they suffered in Bloemfontein in 2015 and will come down to Paarl to prove a point.
Paarl Boys will still have the services of three of their 2015 stalwarts in centre Manny Ras (SA Schools), Lock Salman Moerat (SA Schools) and 8thman Khanya Ncusane (SA u/18).
Bar any injuries, they should be able to field no less than 9 players who did duty for them in 2015. Players still eligible for the Bloemfontein side are Gideon Beukes (Craven Week prop], Matthew Wessels (Craven Week hooker], Diaan Schoonees (Craven Week no. 8), Rewan Kruger (Craven Week scrumhalf), Mario Vieira (Academy Week flyhalf), Gerrie Koegelenberg (centre), Jaco Wessels (centre), Marnus Boshoff (Academy Week wing) and Jandre de Beer (fullback).
Paul Roos vs Paarl Boys High – 28/05/16: Markotter Field Paul Roos, Stellenbosch
Paarl Boys ends off a very tough May fixture list when they have to travel to neighbouring town Stellenbosch to take on the old foe in their own backyard.
Paul Roos wiil be smarting from their loss last year and will want to return the favour.
Home ground advantage is a big factor in this derby and with the exception of 2012 when Paarl Boys won on Markotter. The last 10 years matches since 2006 have all gone to the home team. These games are so closely contested that the average score over 10 years is just 20-18 slightly in favor of the Paarl team.
Monument vs Glenwood – 04/06/2016: Monument High Krugersdorp
We end the first half of the season with Glenwood traveling all the way to Krugersdorp to play the Monnas Witbulle in their second appearance on Premier Interschools for 2016.
The KZN outfit is expected to lead the charge from the coast with an extremely good team that includes SA u18 “A” no.8 Marco Palvie and Craven Week playmaker Jerome Bossr. A player to watch is 17 year old, 2-metre giant JJ van der Mescht and in spite of his age is set to become the KZN’s highest profile player since the Du Preez twins from Kearsney.
Maritzburg College vs Affies – 23/07/2016: Goldstones Maritzburg College
The second half of the season begins when Martizburg College host Affies.
The Pretoria outfit is tipped to be one of the contenders for the No 1 spot in SA for 2016.
College will rely heavily on the trusted home ground advantage of Goldstone where they tasted victory over Affies in 2014.
Affies have a number of craven week players in prop Cabous Eloff (also SA Schools), hooker Schalk Erasmus, flankers Phllip Krause, (SA u/18) and Reghardt du Plessis and lock Henk Pretorius returning to the fray. Halfback combo Jack Hart and Ruan de Swardt have 1st XV experience under the belt while big Craven Week centre Louritz van der Schyff already looked the part in 2015 with an ability to get over the advantage line.
Grey High School vs Grey College – 30/07/2016: Grey High Port Elizabeth
The two brother schools will line each other up at end of July in Port Elizabeth when Grey High face Grey College.
The Bloemfontein outfit have had the better of their PE opponents of late and will try and retain that record.
Paarl Boys High vs Paarl Gimnasium – 06/08/2016: Faure Street Stadium Paarl
The biggest match of the year will take place when last year’s number one team Boys High take on their cross town rivals Paarl Gim.
Twenty odd thousand old boys, girls, moms, dads and fans are expected to fill the stadium to watch the famous derby between these two great schools.
There is no neutral ground on this day; you are either, blue and white, or green, gold and red.
Boland Landbou vs Oakdale – 20/08/2016: Boland Landbou
Our second last match of the season features the two agricultural rivals of the Western Cape.
These two schools regularly produce teams of outstanding quality from a very small player pool.
They are rarely out of the top 20 rankings and have produced numerous Craven week players for their two provinces.
Last year Oakdale won in a very close game again in Riversdale.
This season Boland will rely heavily on playmaker Deon Carstens at No 9 to provide quick ball to their speedy backs, flanker Athi Magwala and 8th man and captain Heinrich Brendal.
Boland has an advantage in that six of the eight forwards already donned the black jersey last year.
Loose forwards Hanno Olivier and WP van Heerden will be the key players in their pack, while centre Nicolus van Eeden, wing Alexander Wallace, and full-back Darren Adonis will be the playmakers out back.
Bishops vs Rondebosch Boys High – 27/08/2016: Piley Rees Bishops
The last game of the season for Premier Interschools is one of the oldest rivalries in South African school rugby when Bishops take on Rondebosch in the Cape derby.
Both sides will have new look teams as they did not retain many players from last year.
Bishops Tighthead JP Smith brings a lot of experience in his third season in the top league, with the only other forward left from 2015 is flank Jean Pienaar.
Rondebosch only has three players returning but they will have gained some advantage from a pre-season tour of Ireland. Lock Matthew Grobler and flank Garth Shenker returns while dynamic wing Mike Mavovana is the only back left from 2015.