View from the Dugout - Sports News 21 March 2019
**This extract is adapted from a previous article that I wrote in 2017. I took the liberty of doing so as I feel that this is a well-timed piece for us to ponder as we go into the Hilton versus Michaelhouse winter sport day.
Whilst one may use the term derby or rivalry rather loosely when referencing our close sporting relationships with peer schools (and one school in particular), the reality is that these terms can vary quite dramatically in meaning depending on the type and intensity of the competition. In their gentlest form a sports rivalry is merely an intense competition between athletic teams or athletes. And, when combined with geographic proximity and frequent meetings in important games, these rivalries can become known as a local derby, or simply just derby (pronunciation UK: DAR-bee or US: DER-bee); a sporting fixture between two teams from the same town, city or region. When signifying a friendly competition a rivalry or derby is, undoubtedly, an occasion to celebrate and maintain.
These terms can, however, also be used to denote a rather more sinister side to competition in sport. A rivalry so intense that the pressure of competition is felt by players, coaches, and management, but is perhaps felt strongest by the fans. It is known that when these types of rivalries get out of control they can lead to fighting, hooliganism, rioting and some, with career-ending or even fatal consequences. On one such occasion, following a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier, this type of sporting rivalry was attributed as being the catalyst to a military conflict known as the 100 hour war or more commonly the soccer war! More recently in 2011, following the conclusion of the Boston Bruins' win over the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Ice Hockey Finals, a riot ensued in downtown Vancouver which resulted in at least 140 people being injured and 101 people being arrested. Following investigations a total of 887 charges were laid against 301 people for their part in civil disturbance or violence. These are two dramatic examples of rivalries that have gotten way out of control.
Preserving healthy rivalries is so important. Doing so requires us to take intentional steps to promote a balanced perspective on all of our sporting fixtures and, in particular, a wholesome perspective of winning and losing in derby matches. Yes, for sure, let us celebrate our wins and lament our losses but, let it never be so expressive nor so long lasting that the message we send (and our emotions send a clear message!) leaves an indelible and lasting impression of what sport is really about.
On Saturday, we welcome our old rivals, Michaelhouse, to our school for our 201st derby. My hope is that the competition will be a wonderful celebration of school-boy sport, showcasing all that is excellent about games and our friendship with our rivals. Undoubtedly, the competition will be fierce, and so it should be, but hopefully the camaraderie between the boys will be even more prevalent.
The Hilton vs Michaelhouse is after all a rivalry well over a century in the making and may it always be a fixture that, win or lose, will be played in the good and right spirit in which it was originally started.
Our hockey club continued their fantastic start to their season with a successful down-the-line fixture against Kearsney and outstanding results at the Nomads Festival over the weekend.
Due to the malalignment of government and private school holidays, our 1st XI, U16A and U14A teams were scheduled to play the Nomads Festival over our Kearsney weekend. This meant that these teams had to play their domestic fixture against the “Greyhounds” last week Tuesday and Wednesday. Playing at Kearsney is tough at the best of times but travelling there in the mid-week is a far more difficult proposition. Regardless, our boys rose to the occasion going unbeaten in these matches with the 1st XI drawing 1 – 1, the U16A winning 5 – 0 and the U14A winning 3 – 1. While the 1st XI were left ruing missed chances, the U16A and U14A were on fire. The U14A did particularly well in their game, overturning an early deficit to run away as clear winners in the end. The remaining teams, playing on Saturday, followed up this good work by posting excellent performances. Our U16 age group were particularly dominant winning all of their games U16B 2 – 0, U16C 5 – 1 and U16D 4 – 0.
Another highlight of the weekend was the all-round performances of our teams at Nomads. The Nomads Festival is a collection of many of the strongest hockey schools in the country and, as such, it provides an excellent opportunity for our teams to test themselves against strong teams – with each team playing 5 matches in 3 days. In the 1st team festival our boys won 4 out of their 5 encounters beating KES (2 – 0), Affies (1 – 0), Grey College (2 – 1) and St Albans (2 – 1) and losing out to Grey PE (1 - 2). The “White” is playing some exceptional goal-to-goal hockey at the moment and if they are able to make more of their scoring opportunities they are going to have a great season. The U16A’s, sublime since the “get-go”, were in formidable form on their tour winning all matches played – KES (5 - 2), St Albans (4 - 0), Pretoria Boys(3 - 1), St. Johns(6 - 3), Grey College (4 - 0). The U14s also were dominant beating Bishops (7 - 0), Grey PE (2 - 0), KES (7 - 0) and Pretoria (3 - 1) and losing to Rondebosch (1 – 3).
Coming into the Kearsney match with a game under the belt was an advantage for most of our teams – this, despite a few bumps and bruises after the DHS fixture. The day fell largely in our favour with some very exciting games played. The commitment and passion of the U15D was awesome to watch. This team bounced back from a drubbing against DHS to earn a nail-biting 19 – 17 win. The game of the day was a 10 try humdinger between the U14D teams. Our boys came out “guns blazing” but battled to subdue the hosts who “gave as good as they got” throughout the game. In the end, our boys did well to prevail 36 – 28. The U16B (41 – 0) and slick 2nd XV (40 – 13) registered incredible performances. I can’t recall the last time we saw such a dominant performance from the “Hoop and Badge” and especially against Kearsney. The boys could just not put a foot wrong as they dominated every phase of play from start to finish.
The 1st XV match lived up to the expectation of a close match. This high intensity encounter saw both sides ruing errors as good phase-on-phase work was undone by mistakes. Be that as it may, it made for a very exciting game. After conceding an early penalty, we edged ahead after a brilliant try by captain, Mark Armstrong. Picking up at the base of a 5m scrum he used his speed and strength to fend off a few defenders and crash over beneath the posts. The conversion sealed a 7 – 3 lead. By the half, Kearsney had converted a second penalty (7 – 6). The second period was more of the same with neither side asserting clear dominance. Later in the period Kearsney eked ahead with a try of their own (7 – 11) only for us to reclaim the lead a few minutes later with another try – Ruan Wilmans linking a 1 – 2 pass with Michael Booth to dance past defenders and score (14 – 11). Late in the game, a series of penalties awarded to Kearsney saw them build territorial pressure and, ultimately, another 3 pointer (14 – 14). The final moments were very exciting as we pressurised their defence deep in their half but, in the end, the scores remained level – a fair result for two very brave teams that had given their all on the day.
Remaining fixtures this term:
- 23 March – Michaelhouse (H)
Executive Director - Sport