EASTERN Cape schools rugby teams will have their hands full from tomorrow when they tackle a series of highly rated opponents in the annual Easter festivals around the country.
Besides the inaugural Mzwandile Mali Memorial tournament at Port Elizabeth’s New Brighton Oval, nine Eastern Cape schools will be playing in festivals in Johannesburg and Durban, giving them an excellent chance to prove their credentials against some of the country’s leading teams.
The PE tournament was the brainchild of the late Mali’s son, Lincoln, and will feature six townships schools competing in a series of matches, with three on the programme for tomorrow and a further round of games on Saturday.
It is the first such opportunity for most of the teams and should provide a boost for the game in the township areas.
Meanwhile, there will be some big fish to fry in the high profile KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng tournaments.
The Eastern Cape will be well represented at the Kearsney and KES festivals, with four teams in each tournament. The Kearsney Festival has built a reputation for attracting some of the top rugby-playing schools in the country, manifested in the presence of such powerhouses as Grey College, Affies and Monument.
EP will be represented by Framesby and Nico Malan, and they will be joined by Selborne and Dale.
Framesby have a daunting opener against Monument. The PE side have another interesting clash against Selborne, who shaded them by four points in the Graeme Rugby Day, while Nico Malan will also test themselves against Eastern Cape opposition in the form of unbeaten Dale.
It is a chance for many young players to catch the eye of talent scouts and players like Dale’s talented flyhalf Courtney Winnaar and exciting Selborne centre David Britz will be closely watched.
At the KES Festival in Johannesburg, the Eastern Cape schools are Grey High, Marlow, Graeme and Queen’s.
Grey will need to come off the high of their fantastic comeback against Paul Roos at the weekend when they play the feature match tomorrow against a strong Menlo Park team.
Queen’s have struggled this season, but will be looking for a good festival to restore their spirits. They can prove their worth when they take on hosts KES.
St Andrew’s are the only side in the St Stithians Festival, where they will face tough challenges against KZN teams Maritzburg College and Hilton.
The other big festival in Johannesburg takes place at St John’s, but does not feature any Eastern Cape teams. – Neale Emslie
THE Easter festival fixtures involving Eastern Cape schools are:
Kearsney Festival, Durban, tomorrow: Framesby v Monument, Westville v Nico Malan, Selborne v Affies, Glenwood v Dale; Saturday: Selborne v Framesby, Middelburg v Nico Malan, Kearsney v Dale; Monday: Nico Malan v Dale, Glenwood v Framesby, Westville v Selborne.
KES Festival Johannesburg, tomorrow: Eldoraigne v Marlow, Northwood v Graeme, Queen’s v Parktown, Grey High v Menlo Park; Saturday: Trinity House v Graeme, Rondebosch v Marlow, Grey High v Parktown, KES v Queen’s; Monday: Queen’s v Hentie Cilliers, Graeme v Parktown, Marlow v Menlo Park, Grey High v Rondebosch.
St Stithian’s Festival, Johannesburg, tomorrow: St Benedict’s College v St Andrew’s; Saturday: Maritzburg College v St Andrew’s; Monday: Hilton v St Andrew’s.
Mzwandile Mali Memorial tournament, New Brighton Oval, tomorrow: 1pm: Ithembelihle v Newell, 2.05pm: Cowan v Thamsanqa, 3.10pm: Mzontsundu v Chubekile.