22 May 2019
Recently, I have been encouraged to read some excellent articles published by schools and various other commentators defending the cause of school boy sport. Not least of these was the article published by our own headmaster, Mr George Harris, about winning. His article has been shared far and wide and has sparked healthy debate. Rondebosch too have weighed in by publishing their own manifesto regarding education and sport. This article was largely written to inform their community on the much spoken of team rankings. Having experienced the negative effects of the rankings on our teams and player, we support the views held by this peer school in the Cape.
Gary Kirsten, a past Protea cricketer and national coach of India Cricket, was recently quoted as saying the following about the purpose of sport at school:
“It seems that we’ve forgotten that school is a place where you learn. It’s a place of preparation, not performance. Once you’ve gained skills and learnt confidence based on real competence, you are better prepared for the stress of performance and competition”.
For me, when all is said and done, it all comes down to perspective and purpose. It’s the age old question of the “Why?” Why do we play sport at school in the first place? In all matters of life (not just in sport) our perspective on things and our purpose often changes with time, but not always for the better, and a timely reminder is often what we needed to keep our “eye on the ball”.
PRETORIA BOYS FIXTURE
Last weekend we welcomed PBHS to our school for the second edition of our cultural and winter Sport exchange. This event is a huge undertaking for both schools but is one which both (schools) feel is a “value-add” not merely from a culture and sport point of view but also in building collegiality between our historic schools. Having completed the agreed two year “cycle” of one home and one away match, we are now looking to the future to decide on how best to do such fixtures going forward.
The exchange with the Pretoria giants got off to the best possible start with the PBHS Big Band entertaining our entire school to a selection of outstanding musical items. This top-class ensemble concluded their repertoire with a rousing edition of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele which had our boys clapping and singing along. Our Hilton College band followed and, rising to the standard set by our visitors, delivered a polished and entertaining performance of their own.
Chess and Golf teams got the competitive aspect of the weekend underway later that afternoon. The chess contest saw us evenly matched with each match going down to the wire. This game requires guile not only in one’s individual performance but in selecting your team ranking/order – not dissimilar to team tennis and golf competitions. This aspect turned out to be the differentiator as we pulled off a very narrow 7 – 5 win – our second consecutive victory of the fixture.
The golf teams travelled to the Maritzburg Golf Club for their match play fixture. This fixture was also a cliff-hanger with both teams neck-and-neck through the front 9. Unfortunately, fading light limited playing time and this meant that none of the parings completed all 18 holes. In order to ensure a result, the teams had pre-determined that the final scores would consist of the outcome of all completed holes. In the end, we couldn’t be separated, and the fixture ended in a fair 3 – 3 draw.
Our Hockey club found the going tough when we played at PBHS in 2018, so we were bracing ourselves for another hard contest at Home. The day started off well with the U14C playing out of their boots to earn a solid 4 – 0 win. By contrast the U14A, playing in the same slot, would have been disappointed with their draw having overhauled a goal deficit and accelerating to a 3 – 1 lead. With only minutes remaining, PBHS showed true fight by making a double strike 3 minutes before the final whistle for the game to end 3 – 3. PBHS enjoyed the advantage of depth when it came to the lower Open and U16 divisions. I was proud, however, that our boys gave their all in every match and for the most part the games were close. The 2nd and U16A matches were very exciting games, contests which both teams did very well to win 2 – 1. The 16’s were particularly jubilant after turning over the ball 1 minute before fulltime and run the full length of the pitch to score the decisive goal. If that wasn’t dramatic enough the 1st XI match topped the entertainment stakes with their last minute heroics. From the start of the game it was clear that PBHS 1st XI were a very competent outfit that had travelled to Hilton with one purpose in mind – to win. After a scoreless first period, our boys started to have the ascendency when on attack. Numerous chances came our way with a few of our shots being saved and one coming off their upright. Unfortunately, score we could not do and a rare mistake at the back then resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded to the visitors (0 – 1). With time steadily winding down PBHS tightened their defensive structures making it even harder for us to penetrate their D. Despite our territorial advantage we were made to pay once more after a short-corner, repeatedly awarded, was eventually converted by PBHS (0 – 2). With one quarter remaining our boys pushed even harder to get back in the game and eventually with only 5 minutes left on the clock Matt Barrett got onto the end of a cross to deflect a bullet into the PBHS side net (1 – 2). All seemed lost for the White when the clock turned from minutes to seconds. With one throw left of the dice, the boys launched a final attack up the right which resulted in a penalty corner awarded with 10 seconds remaining. With time now having completely elapsed our first attempt was brilliantly saved by the PBHS keeper. Fortunately, we were able to earn another PC. On our second and third attempt PBHS were then penalised twice for false starts by the defenders and it was on only on the fourth attempt that another save by the keeper fell for Matt Barrett who calmly finished off at close range to complete the come-back 2 – 2. Pretty incredible stuff!
It is not often that a first team requires their “third pick” to step up to the plate but on this weekend, with the 1st and 2nd XI keepers unavailable, Josh Goodwin, got the call up to take guard as our stopper. Josh made a number of good saves on the day to deny PBHS the win – Well done Josh for a job well done!
The opening salvoes in rugby saw our 4th XV grab a hard fought 12 – 0 win on Gilfillan. This was backed up by a come-from-behind 25 -12 victory for the U16B and dominance by the U15B (48 – 0) and U14A (40 – 0). Unfortunately, the 8ths, 7th and 16D were up against it depth-wise – each team succumbing to the bigger, faster and stronger PBHS outfits. With many excellent performances registered on the day it would be hard to select our top team, although the U16A, U15A and U14B may have a shout considering their slick displays. For me, the U14D probably deserve that accolade for closing out a very close fought and exciting 19 – 12 victory.
The 2nd XV gave another gutsy performance to secure a very narrow 10 – 7 win. The Hoop and Badge had to hold on for dear life in the closing stages of the game with everything seemingly going against us at the time. The 1st XV match was tipped to be a very close match. From the start it was clear that both teams wanted to play a high intensity game – we were in for a try fest! The White scored relatively early in the match with a converted try and a penalty, this, however, was matched by our opponents who scored a brilliant try of their own and drew level with a penalty not long thereafter (10 – 10). The points kept coming with an excellent team try finished by Latica Nela – 5m out off of the pick-and-go, an inch perfect flat pass saw him slice through PBHS untouched (15 – 10). The rest of the half was a stale mate with both sides maintaining good defensive shape. The 10 minutes after start of the second half was the decisive moment for the White. In this period a converted try and two penalties, thanks to the in-form boot of Ruan Wilmans, saw us all but seal the win (28 – 10). A PBHS try in the last quarter did give them hope (28 – 15) but two more outstanding tries for us thrust us beyond reach. In the end the 1st XV notched up an outstanding victory on Gilfillan (42 – 28)
HOCKEY AND RUGBY VERSUS WESTVILLE
This past weekend was our penultimate Away match for 2019. Westville awaited us, a fixture which next to Maritzburg College, is one of our hardest and most physical matches of the season. Having split venues between rugby and hockey, and multiple hockey venues is always a bit of a pain from a spectating point of view. I was glad, nevertheless, to be able to watch a fair number of matches all-round.
We got off to a good start in rugby with the 5th and U14C both registering fine wins and the U15B and U16D sustaining narrow losses. The U14B were in a destructive mood from the start. Westville couldn’t match our team for skill nor pace and this told as we frequently crossed the whitewash. For me, the team of the day was our 4th XV. Coming into this match this outfit had been decimated by injury and illness and were fielding a number of youngsters. Grit and determination summed up the performance as these boys tackled anything that moved and turned opportunity into points. In the end, this slender 2-point win may well be the sweetest victory of the season for the 4ths. Well done boys!
As the morning progressed we were finding the going tough with a number of our teams falling just short of the mark. The U15A and U14A, both of which have had excellent seasons, were notable casualties, going down in matches that could have easily gone the other way. I have no doubt that they will have learned a great deal from the loss and come back even stronger. Although the 6ths wrapped up a lower-Open clean sweep, more disappointment awaited for the U16A and 2nd XV. Both of these matches were nail-biting affairs but, in the end, the physicality and pace of our opponents proved too difficult to contain. Hats off to Westville, they had done their homework and were doggedly determined to win every contest. The first XV were our final hope on a day that had largely gone in favour of the home side. Missing some of our talismanic players against this gigantic Westville team was certainly going to require something special from the boys. The 1st XV got off to an excellent start with a penalty conversion by Ruan Wilmans. This was then followed by a try from a rolling mall (8 – 0) – thanks to rookie Connor Holdsworth finding his jumper like a seasoned professional and our forwards trundling their bigger opponents backwards in military quick time.
Westville were soon back in it, however, after a series of lacklustre attempts at clearing our lines and an eventual defensive error (8 – 7). We were subjected to employ gritty and sometimes scramble defence for the rest of that period as the hosts enjoyed the better of the territory and possession. The Second stanza started as well as the first. Our boys showed much more respect for their possession and eventually a set move, utilizing a cunning inside pass, saw Latica Nela lacerate the Westville defensive line from 25m out and, sidestepping a final defender, he dived in for the score under the poles. (15 – 7). A penalty for the hosts narrowed the gap (15 – 10) but a period of sustained pressure eventually saw us over again after an exceptional cut-out pass by Ruan Wilmans put Thabiso Dlamini in the gap for the score (22 – 10). More drama awaited after some misdirected kicks brought the Westville back- three into play. Dangerously quick and powerful, we struggled to defend their counter-attacks and eventually this translated into another score (22 – 17). Right from the kick-off, however, an error by Westville put us back into striking range. This time we opted for the drop goal with Ruan Wilmans converting from close range to take us 7 clear (25 – 17). Ultimately, this conversion translated into the killer blow as an unconverted try and a few more missed chances by Westville left them 3 points adrift. In the end this was a historic win for the White – 4 in a row against this massive school.
Our hockey teams registered excellent results against Westville on Saturday winning 4, drawing 4 and losing 6 matches. The U14A team continued their impressive run with a hard fought victory. There was little to separate the teams and it took much patience and a strike in the final minutes to eventually seal the 1 – 0 win. The U16A game was another humdinger. Here too the strength of the schools was very evenly matched with the momentum swinging from one team to the other. The result was only determined in the final quarter with our boys claiming the lead, Westville then making an immediate reply (1 – 1) and finally, an excellent goal by David Tshebi in the final minute closed out the win 2 – 1. Noteworthy performances were also registered by the U16D and U14B teams. Both teams showed great intent and were stronger on the ball than their opponents.
The 1st XI match was billed to be a thriller as both schools are widely considered to be amongst the top teams in the country. The contest turned out to be a real brawl with tight defensive structures and high intensity action in the contact zones. To be fair, Westville were actually the stronger team in the first quarter and we were made to scramble in order to thwart numerous circle entries in this period. Fortunately, we held them at bay and it seemed that by midway through the second quarter we had settled into a good structure. 0 – 0 was the score at the half. As the game wore on we continued to improve with territorial and possession stats leaning heavily in our favour. Real scoring chances were created and we were unlucky not to take the lead on a few occasions. The pressure mounted exponentially on both teams with the game deadlocked and scoreless and with time running low. This led to a number of errors and turnovers but in the end, the defence of the teams held firm. This was a fascinating match between two “heavy-weights” and a fair result in the end.
Craven week team
KZN Inland U18A
KZN Inland U18B
KZN Inland U16A
Daniel Den Bakker
KZN Inland U16B
James te Riele
KZN Inland U14A
KZN Inland U14B
Our Home fixture on 8 June is published as matches versus Midlands Schools. This arrangement was the result of us having to pick up an opponent after Glenwood pulled out of our fixture on this date. Fortunately, we have been able to secure Clifton College as a full fixture for our hockey teams. We have also worked hard to ensure a full set of matches for our rugby teams which will be against a variety of schools. To this end, we are pleased that Sarel Cilliers (Glencoe) have agreed to travel to us on this date to play our 1st, U16A, U15A and U14A teams. Sarel Cilliers has a proud rugby history and we look forward to hosting them at our school for the first time.
Executive Director – Sport