MARITZBURG COLLEGE

MARITZBURG COLLEGE

In the beginning… Jono’s painful memories of the DHS U13A rugby side

IT was the year circa 1977.​

Michael Osz on the left wing – beyond blistering pace – Leighton Higgo on the right – unbelievable strength and explosive power – l​oose forwards like starving, rabid Rottweilers with an insatiable appetite​for scrumhalves and flyhalves… an absolute stormer of a DHS U13A pack…

Flyhalf Andrew Shedders Shedlock and fullback Alan Kirby orchestrating the backline massacre…

DHS Old Boy Andrew ‘Shedders’ Shedlock – Springbok water polo and Shedders Cricket Academy just a couple of his many achievements.

As a 13-year-old second former (grade 8) this is what I saw. And, painfully, felt in the return match on Van Heerdens, lol .

When you’re playing against a side that’s so much better​, ​this is what ​you ​can ​feel – so very, very real to an impressionable ​young ​mind​.

Thankfully I was injured for that first Maritzburg College vs DHS U13A match in 1977. The venue was Snows, the rugby and cricket field just below Goldstones…

In my Merchiston Prep School standard 5 (grade 7) year I’d never, ever, encountered such beasts. Well, ​on ​that ​welcome-to-the-big-wide-world-of-high-school day on Snows, with tries still 4 points, School U13’s ran riot, especially Mike Osz and Leighton Higgo, all the way ​to the ​40-plus to zilch ​endgame​ ​score and then some.

The return match on Van Heerdens​… I was unfortunately fit.

​The late ​Ken Elliott​ (who went on to become a much-loved and respected Maritzburg College headmaster) was ​our coac​h. The MC U13A captain – quickest off the mark and our best tackler by a country mile – was one Henry Gordon Coxwell​. With much good sense, Mr Elliott decided that H should move to fullback, primarily – I surmise – to contain the Osz/Higgo threat. Yours truly, right wing that year, though more accustomed to playing flyhalf in Merchiston Prep days, was moved to 10…

On the Education Department bus (yes, no privately-contracted buses in those days) down to Horsefly HQ, plagued by the thought of what was to come… those halfback-hungry DHS loosies (unfortunately I can tell you who two of them were – I thought I’d have at-last erased them from my long-ago nightmares… the beyond-aggressive Shaun Cross on the flank and captain Chris Farrant at eighthman).
I could scarcely… barely… keep my breakfast down

Well, it was absolute mayhem… The monstrous DHS U13A pack got plentiful front-foot ball – primarily thanks to (the late) Andrew “Waka” Carl and his front-row cohorts along with fellow tight five cronies Chris Edwards and Steve Meyer… and this time their loosies, Messrs Farrant and Cross, didn’t bother to give their backs a run – numbers 6, 7 and 8 skipped going to the tryline through A (Jimmy Cook), B, C & D on to Osz/Higgo… They wisely decided much better to go from A to Z in one move. The result? The sum of 40-odd points to zero, nada, again.

​Does my Maritzburg College age-group tale of woe continue?? “No!” he cried! The next year, on Lamonds, just below College Road, ​one Arthur Wormington (the multi-talented sportsman who, remarkably, went on to vice-captain the SA Schools’ hockey team just 3 years later, just 2 years after taking up hockey) slotted a drop-goal for College U14A to win by one slender point.

Arthur ‘Worms’ Wormington (right) with Michaelhouse Old Pumpy Lambert at the Boks vs Japan 2015 Rugby World Cup match in Brighton.

And it gets even better… The U13A Maritzburg College vs DHS annus horribilis of 1977 evolved into back-to-back Red Black and White first XV victories for the MC Class of 81.

If my cobweb-covered memory serves me correctly, in that MC U13A side of 77 so ruthlessly vanquished by that DHS mean machine, were a few Red Black & White who went on to play in the Goldstones- and Van Heerdens-victorious Maritzburg College first XV of 1981.

 

 

The salad days of matric 1982… the years haven’t been kind to Jono…

 

There may have been more but definitely among them were Henry Coxwell, Ross Cooper (I think Ross played in at least one of them before injury cut his 81 season), Mike “Rab” Bode and Mike White… and a lock by the name of Toffa Hattingh…

Toffa’s Maritzburg College/DHS first XV memories is the next KZN10.com story…

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