Grey ready for tough festival

STRONG LEADERSHIP: Flank Johan van Niekerk, seen in action here during a recent match, will lead Grey High in the Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival, starting on Saturday. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
STRONG LEADERSHIP: Flank Johan van Niekerk, seen in action here during a recent match, will lead Grey High in the Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival, starting on Saturday. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

GREY High will be tested by two highly rated schools from KwaZulu-Natal, sandwiching a local derby against Nico Malan, when the Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival kicks off on Saturday.

The Grey organisers have lined up an impressive list of teams for this event, which is back on the calendar after a break last year when the school attended Maritzburg College’s 150th anniversary.

Ironically, Maritzburg College are not attending the Grey tournament but there is still an excellent cross-section of teams which will keep rugby enthusiasts interested over the three days of the festival – Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.

A total of 26 teams will compete, with a fresh dimension being added by Argentine school La Plata and Windhoek Gymnasium, from Namibia.

Hosts Grey will be grateful for a good workout in their opening game at the Graeme College Rugby Day when they defeated Marlow 26-7. They know they will probably have to up the intensity this weekend when they open against Kearsney, before ending off with a clash against old rivals Michaelhouse.

Kearsney had an excellent year last year, beating all their KwaZulu-Natal rivals and suffering a rare loss to Paarl Gymnasium. It might be too much to expect them to continue in that vein, but they have started the season well and will be fired up to show what they can do against Grey, who were unbeaten in the Eastern Cape last year.

Grey and Michaelhouse have had a keen rivalry over the years and although they have not met for a few seasons, their clash on Wednesday should provide a fitting finale to the festival.

The final day will see a shortened programme, with only seven matches scheduled, but the first two days will be full of action.

Besides leading Eastern Cape sides such as Selborne, Queen’s, Dale and Marlow, there will be sides from Cape Town, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal all keen to display their prowess.

The Eastern Cape teams face several interesting challenges on the first day.

Queen’s will be hoping to kick-start a somewhat slow beginning to the season against Michaelhouse, while Selborne will play the main curtain-raiser on the Philip field against Johannesburg outfit KES.

Earlier on Saturday, Marlow will face a test of their credentials against Durban team Westville, where former Grey first team coach and teacher Dean Carelse is now employed. – Neale Emslie

Grey Rugby Festival fixtures

Saturday

Philip field, 8.30: Pearson v Hudson Park; 9.45: Westville v Marlow; 11am: Pretoria Boys v Durban High School; 12.15: Glenwood v Bishops; 1.30: Queen’s v Michaelhouse; 2.45 Selborne v KES; 4pm: Grey High v Kearsney

Pollock Oval, 8.30: La Plata 2nd v Grey Unicorns; 9.45: La Plata v Ithembelihle; 11am: Kingswood v Louis Botha; 12.15: Daniel Pienaar v Jeppe; 1.30pm: Windhoek Gym v Dale; 2.45: Nico Malan v Parktown

Monday

Philip field, 8.30am: Marlow v Windhoek Gym; 9.45: Queen’s v Westville; 11am: Dale v Parktown; 12.15: KES v DHS; 1.30: Kingswood v Bishops;2.45: Kearsney v Pretoria Boys; 4pm: Grey v Nico Malan

Pollock Oval, 8.30: Muir v Hudson Park; 9.45: Graeme v Michaelhouse; 11am: Pearson v Selborne; 12.15: Glenwood v Jeppe; 1.30: SACS v Louis Botha

Wednesday

Philip field, 8.30am: Westville v Louis Botha9.45: Windhoek v Graeme; 11am: Hudson Park v Pretoria Boys; 12.15: Muir v Parktown; 1.30: Grey High v Michaelhouse

Pollock Oval, 9.45: SACS v DHS; 11am: Grey Unicorns v Ithembelihle

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