WITH a new coach at the helm and a crop of new players, hosts Graeme College will get a true gauge of their rugby status this year when they take on Dale in the feature match of the Graeme College rugby day in Grahamstown on Friday.
Sponsored by Pam Golding Properties, this annual event is now into its 16th year and tournament organiser Nico van der Meulen said this week it was proving as popular as ever.
“We are full for the day and all the Eastern Cape schools are very keen to stay involved,” Van der Meulen said. “Besides being a fund-raiser, it’s a chance for us to promote our school as well as Grahamstown.”
The day caters not only for 18 first teams, but also sides from the under-14 and U15 divisions of several of the competing schools. A total of 21 matches will be played on three fields, starting at 8.30am.
Graeme and Dale clash in the final fixture at 4.10pm and should provide a fitting finale to the day.
Kevin Watson has taken over as Graeme coach and started with a relatively new team, with only six players back from last year’s squad.
Graeme were highly competitive last year, and Watson says he has been impressed by the keenness among the boys in the race to make the squad for Friday’s match.
“With only 300 boys in the high school we do battle to compete with the bigger schools, but we have a mobile unit this year and will be looking to play exciting rugby.”
Graeme will be playing their first match on Friday and Watson knows Dale will be a tough opener.
A highlight for the teams is that former international referee Jonathan Kaplan, one of the best officials to have been produced by South Africa, will take charge of the match.
Starting with Muir against Port Alfred at 8.30am, there are number of mouthwatering clashes to keep schools rugby enthusiasts interested throughout the day.
Grey High face old Karoo rivals Marlow, while St Andrew’s, who lost to Daniel Pienaar at the weekend, take on another tough Uitenhage school in Brandwag.
Another major highlight will be the clash between Framesby and Selborne, while Kingswood will be keen to show their credentials against Queen’s.
The fixtures are:
Somerset, 8am: Muir v Port Alfred High; 9.10: Cambridge v Pearson; 10.20: Hudson Park v Nico Malan; 11.30: Grey High v Marlow; 12.40: Selborne v Framesby; 1.50: St Andrew’s v Brandwag; 3pm: Kingwood v Queen’s; 4.10: Graeme v Dale
Marais A, 9.30: (U15 unless stated): St Andrew’s v Brandwag; 10.30: PJ Olivier 1st v Nathaniel Nyaluza; 11.30: Cambridge v Pearson; 12.30: Hudson Park v Nico Malan; 1.30: Kingswood v Queen’s; 2.30: Selborne v Framesby
Marais B, 8.30: (U14 unless stated): Graeme College v Marlow; 9.30: Graeme U15 v Marlow; 10.30: St Andrew’s v Brandwag; 11.30: Selborne v Framesby; 12.30: Kingswood v Queen’s; 1.30: Cambridge v Pearson; 2.30: Hudson Park v Nico Malan – Neale Emslie