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View from the Dugout #62

8 March 2019

Last week I had the privilege of attending the SA Rowing Championships at Roodeplaat Dam, just outside Pretoria. This massive event attracts passionate boys and girls and their coaches, parents and supporters from all over the country. It’s an “all-in” kind of a sport, which demands absolute dedication from all involved. As an oarsman there is no slacking allowed.

Whether on the water or off it, each one is required to “pull their weight” literally and figuratively. You may get some help with relocating oars now and again, but no one carries your boat to or from the water – that’s up to the crew. And be sure, some of those boats are big and heavy.

Being a spectator at regattas can be a life threatening activity as boats are heaved onto shoulders and manoeuvred from camp to jetty and, post-race, back to camp again. If you are not careful and fail to heed the cry of “Heads!” you could easily have the misfortune becoming intimate with a stray bow, stern or metal outrigger.

On one occasion, whist ducking for cover, I couldn’t help but notice the crew of an 8 (an 8 is the largest boat in rowing) that were making their way back to camp. In military formation, they paused before proceeding up a narrow road laden with stones. The boat was bulky and sat heavy on their shoulders, and it was clear that each movement was more painful than the last. Having rowed 2000m for all they were worth they were now met with the challenge of sore shoulders to bear the load, sore legs to move the weight and, possibly, sorest of all, as gravity would dictate, bare feet on sharp stones. The grimace on their faces told a story of a thousand words or more.

It may sound strange but, as an educator, I loved what I saw in that moment. Learning was taking place right there and then. Real learning. Humility. Learning to carry on well after the race was over, to do the menial task of putting the boat back. Teamwork. My crew and I. Each one doing their part – each one carrying their load. Grit, “my goodness it hurts right now but there is no way I am going to let this boat drop, not now not ever.” There was no space for entitlement in that moment. And, if there had been, it had evaporated quicker than the remaining drops of water on the upturned hull. The culture at regattas leaves no room for this attitude – I think that the sheer ruthlessness of the sport kind of knocks it out of you.

Entitlement has to be one of the most toxic attitudes to pervade a team, school, or organisation. It’s an attitude of believing that you deserve something without having to actually earn it. This sense comes from an arrogance and an inherent belief that you are better than others – and it is often displayed in athletes and their supporters when things don’t go their way. Classic examples are reactions to not being selected for a team or not being chosen for an important role in a team, blaming or abusing team mates or the match official, or in the excuses that are made when mistakes are made or when there is a loss of form. Entitled people always believe that it is someone else’s fault for their own misfortune. One’s true colours really come through in these moments.

My parting thought as I left the rowers to their route march was this, “these boys are going to make it in life”. I saw a steel in them that displayed only when the chips are down; a steel born out of hard work, perseverance, team work and taking responsibility. These boys aren’t going to expect things to happen, but they are going to make things happen – no excuses. They are going to be resilient when things don’t go their way, they will endure, they will persevere, and they will overcome.

Sport, if parents and teachers allow it, will teach you that.

A far better article to read on the theme of entitlement was written by psychologist Dr John Townsend called “The Entitlement Cure: Not Everyone Gets a Trophy”.


I would like to advise all parents and coaches to read it.


(Thanks to Ivan Pistorius for sharing the article).



Congratulations to Singatha Jolwana on being selected for the KZN U19B Basketball team.

Rugby 7s
Congratulations to Latica Nela on being capped for the South African U18 Rugby 7s team. He will be competing in an International Tournament in Namibia over the weekend.

Congratulations to Thomas Dyer and RD Engelbrecht on being selected for the KZN Athletics team. Thomas will be competing in the U15 Shot Put event at the SA Schools Championship on 21 March.

Patrick and Rory Plunkett recently won the Zimbabwe Sports Team of the Year award, beating other senior national teams, Rugby 7s and Cricket, for the accolade. An incredible achievement!


The senior inter-house winners were Lucas House who prevailed over Falcon House 13 – 12 in a hotly contested final. Lucas progressed through to the final from round 1 beating Pearce (17 – 14), Newnham on FT 2 – 1 (19 – 19). This is a remarkable achievement. Congratulations to Singatha Jolwana (Lucas Captain) and his team.

The junior winners were Falcon House who beat Churchill 16 – 11. Remarkably, Falcon beat Lucas House in the junior semi-finals, 13 – 12. Churchill had steamrolled their way into the finals by way of victories over Pearce (17 – 11), and Newnham (24 – 14). Congratulations to Qhawe Soji (Falcon Captain) and his team. The future looks very bright in Falcon given both their House teams made their respective finals.


Michael Lillie has returned from competing for Zambia at the All Africa Games. He came 4th out of 52 participants in the 800m Freestyle. Well done Michael!


The rowing club may well have staked a claim on “Performance of the Year” and “Club of the Year” following their achievements over the weekend. Our small club took on the might of clubs with 100 plus athletes to secure the following results:

The first day of racing saw the U19s in the single scull competition. This hotly contested event saw 78 athletes line up at the start. Coming through the heats Rory and Patrick were well seeded going into the finals. In an exciting race, Patrick won 1st place with a gold medal and trophy and Rory was narrowly beaten into 3rd place with a bronze medal.

On Saturday the19 quadruple coxed scull, Rory Plunket, Patrick Plunket, Nick Weinberg, George Gearing and coxswain James Coull won the gold medals and shield for the first time in the history of Hilton College. In this race our boys came up against a powerful crew from Rondebosch and a strong outfit from St Albans, in an incredibly exciting race to win by less than a second.

On the final day, finishing on a high, Rory Plunket and Patrick Plunket obliterated the opposition by more than 20 seconds in the 19 double scull.

To top it all off, Patrick Plunket is only the 3rd person to ever win 3 Gold medals in the open division.

Our U16 oarsmen displayed outstanding determination in all their events. We were blessed with good results, making the finals in two of our three categories; the quad and the double (Rhys Barnes and Aedan Dicks). The Quad, aptly named Umkamass, is our premier boat for this age group and was manned by Aedan Dicks, Ryhs Barnes, James Weinberg, Richard Karlson and coxswain Jaiden Wilde. This is the boat we have spent the most time in and the rowers are technically looking spectacular. Their achievement of securing a place in the finals was an excellent accomplishment, knowing thatwe were significantly outgunned in crew weight. On race day they gave it their all securing a place in lane 1 for the final. In the final, the crew raced admirably and hard. The team came 7th out of 16 of the top school crews in the country. There are a number of other U16 novice rowers, Joubert Smit, Chae van der Berg and Jaiden Wilde, who sculled and doubled well.

(Thanks to James Quibell for the U16 report)


Our 1st team golfers finished their season on a high with a comprehensive final round win in the Pietermaritzburg League. Exacting revenge on St. Charles for their first round loss to the same school, the boys finished ahead 5.5 to 2.5.

Our 2nd team ended as one of our teams of the season completing a clean sweep of victories in their matches.

The 1st team are now training for the prestigious Affies Tournament which will be taking place in the holidays.


A final round obliteration of Maritzburg College (18 – 0) saw the tennis season close on a high for the 1st team. With the victory they retained the Denness League Trophy as the top tennis team in the Midlands. Well done boys!


The 1st team water polo travelled to Johannesburg to participate in the prestigious KES Tournament. This event is widely regarded as one of the toughest on the circuit, with the majority of the country’s top tier teams taking part.

Although Hilton was drawn in a considerably tough pool, the team did not back down. We got off to a winning start, beating Pretoria Boys’ High School (PBHS) 11 – 6. The Hilton team played Clifton next, losing 12 – 7. It all came down to Hilton vs SACS to seewho would qualify for the quarterfinal rounds. In an intense matchup, SACS, who were eventual winners of the tournament, eventually got in front, winning the game 8 – 5.

Hilton went into the plate section. We played Westville and PBHS, losing both games 5 – 6 and 7 – 8 on penalties respectively. Hilton was placed 12th overall out of 16 Teams.

(Thanks to Andrew Duncan for this report)


The Winter sport season kicks off this weekend with the majority of fixtures being played against DHS in Durban. Unfortunately DHS couldn’t provide us with a full set of matches and for this reason we have found filler games for teams without a match this weekend. Please will parents make a special note of these arrangements.

Remaining fixtures this term:
16 March – Kearsney (A)
23 March – Michaelhouse (H)

Tony Shuttleworth
Executive Director – Sport

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