Season for rugby

Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch will host the 2019 world schools rugby festival, from Tuesday March 26 to Saturday March 30.

The event will see ten South African teams take on 10 sides from the rest of the world in a Ryder Cup-style competition, with the home schools determined to defend the crown they captured in the inaugural festival in 2018.

KwaZulu-Natal outfit Glenwood, which finished 2018 as the third-ranked side in South Africa according to www.rugby365.com, will open the tournament against New Zealanders John McGlashan College, who will be making their debut.

Another debutant, SACS from Cape Town, will face a World Schools Select XV, which is a late addition to the tournament following the withdrawal of the New South Wales Cavaliers from Australia.

Gloucester-based Hartpury College, who were of the most impressive teams at the 2018 event having beaten Affies, begin their campaign against Gauteng side Monument High School. The British team will then go up against local powerhouse, Paarl Gimnasium, on the third day of the festival.

“Last year really opened our eyes as to what the South African sides offered in terms of physicality and the way they played,” said Wayne Thompson, head coach of Hartpury College.

“From what we’ve seen with Monument, they’re certainly very big boys so we know we’re going to have to up our game physically and hopefully the boys will be fully prepared for that. Paarl Gim had a tough game against the Argentine side last year, but I was very impressed by them. “

Thompson added that his side’s win over Affies last year set the tone for what Hartpury is about and that they’d be going all out to improve on their performances in 2019.

“It’s going to be a tough ask as they’re two very different sides to what we played in 2018, but I think it’s going to be a great test for our boys coming to South Africa so we’re very much looking forward to it.”

Paarl Gimnasium’s other match will be against the Africa Pacific Dragons Select XV, a staple of the World Schools Festival that will be comprised of talent from some of New Zealand’s top schools, including Kelston Boys’ High School, Wesley College and Hastings Boys’ High School.

Christchurch Boys’ High School, one of the leading sporting schools in New Zealand, return to the festival and will renew their rivalry with Grey College, a side they lost to 66-28 last year, while they will also face Affies in the penultimate match of the tournament.

Hosts Paul Roos kick-off their campaign against fellow debutants Southland Boys’ High School from New Zealand, while they face another Kiwi team in Napier Boys’ High School in the final match of the competition.

A number of Old Boys teams will play on the final day. Tickets cost R40 for under 18s and R60 for adults, available at Computicket.