It will be a weekend of massive derbies in the next round of the Eastern Cape schools rugby programme on Saturday (May 9), with a series of exciting contests stretching from Cape Town in the west to Queenstown in the east.
But it is arguably in the comparatively central location of Uitenhage where one of the biggest clashes take place at the Brandwag field as the hosts entertain their arch-town rivals Daniel Pienaar.
You only have to witness one of these derbies to appreciate the passion it generates as most of the town gather to see who can lay claim to the annual bragging rights.
Currently those belong to Brandwag, who have won the last two derby encounters. But a clear indication of how these matches generally unfold is that their recent wins have been by two points in 2013 and by one point last year. You have to go back to 2009 for the last time a team won by more than five points, when Brandwag took it 35-10.
Neither team have had perfect records this season, but Brandwag are coming off a solid 60-22 win over Union High, while Daniel Pienaar were outplayed by Grey High 48-3. The DP side, though, put in a strong performance against the PE team and it was only in the latter stages that Grey ran away with the game.
There will be no quarter asked for or given in Uitenhage on Saturday and it should be another enthralling encounter.
In Grahamstown, two of the big three rugby-playing schools kick off the first major showdown of the year when Graeme host St Andrew’s on Saturday afternoon. While nobody ever takes anything for granted, St Andrew’s have held the upper hand in recent seasons and despite both sides fielding relatively inexperienced teams, it could be another tough afternoon for the hosts.
Graeme, however, do have former St Andrew’s director of rugby Allan Miles in their corner this year and his input could be invaluable if the Graemians are to bury the recent jinx.
Another Grahamstown school, Kingswood, travel to Queenstown for what will be a real challenge against Queen’s. Kingswood are highly rated this year, but they will need to show better finishing after being edged by Hudson Park at the weekend.
They will also have to tighten up their defence against a Queen’s team always full of running on the Rec field.
Grey High will be looking to build on their solid win over Daniel Pienaar in their Wynberg derby in Cape Town. For years Grey had the measure of their Cape rivals before losing in 2012 and 2013. Last year the PE team re-established their supremacy, but they will know that there are no longer easy pickings in this annual derby.
In a classic east-west showdown in Port Elizabeth, Victoria Park are at home to Westering in a match always well contested. VP have had a good run this year and might fancy their chances against their cross-town rivals.
The fixtures, subject to change, are (home teams first, 11.30am start unless stated): Alexander Road v Ithembelihle (11am), Arcadia v John Walton, Andrew Rabie v Despatch (12.00), Mary Waters v Adelaide Gym, Brandwag v Daniel Pienaar (12.30), Bertram v Ndzondelelo, Newton Tech v Cillie, Otto du Plessis v Framesby, Wynberg v Grey High (15.30), Humansdorp v Uitenhage, Muir v Nico Malan (12.30), Hudson Park v Pearson, Solomon Mahlangu v David Livingstone, VP v Westering, Woodridge v York (12.15), Graeme v St Andrew’s (15.45), Queen’s v Kingswood (15.00).
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