Errors cost Kearsney on Meadows as House make it count
Mistakes aplenty led to the Kearsney College first XV’s undoing as an alert, more polished Michaelhouse made the most of opportunities to record a welcome 22-9 victory on the 126-year-old midlands school’s Founders Weekend.
Attempting to relieve early pressure in the opening couple of minutes on the splendid Meadows field, Kearsney played into Michaelhouse’s hands and the outcome was a converted try for the hosts as big House eighthman Wandile Mlaba crashed over into in-goal area.
Feature photo caption: Since 1896… Michaelhouse’s current boys commemorate Founders’ Weekend celebrations ahead of the first XV kick-off with many Old Boys of House, Men of House, in attendance around Meadows.
Subsequently, in a rousing House segment of play, the Kearsney defence was put to the test and not found wanting. The visitors regathered in the rugby-friendly conditions and enjoyed some time in the attacking zone but try-time did not materialise and their 6 pre-halftime points came via the penalty-goals brace by scrumhalf Matt Bergset.
To compound the frustration, Kearsney overcooked a lineout throw and House pounced with centre Campbell Ridl finishing off for the home side’s second, much-appreciated, 7-pointer of the half. Hosts Michaelhouse duly went into the changeover with the scoreboard reflecting two converted tries and a penalty goal (17) to Kearsney number 9 Bergset’s set of penalties (6).
Cognisant of the 11-point deficit with half of the match still to play, Kearsney knew they still had plenty of time to win this match. With flanker and captain Jason Brien leading by example, Kearsney proceeded to express themselves, but it was as if the rugby gods were conspiring against them.
More accurately, perhaps, vital passes went astray through poor cohesion, while other attacking forays found fault and the sum total of the admirable determination of the Kearsney side was a lone Bergset penalty goal.
Towards the end of the match a field kick went off-point and extreme pace over 50-plus metres in the form of left wing Kevin Smith burnt away any thought of interference for the third and final Michaelhouse try of the match (22-9).
With many Men of House of yesteryear in attendance, in celebration of Founders’ (1896) Weekend, the Class of 1947 (75 Years) deserving special mention, it was appropriate that the magical KZN midlands conjured up the most special of Autumnal days together with the gorgeous colours which are a signature therein.
It’s always interesting to see what has happened in previous first XV matches of recent times:
On the 8th May 2021 Michaelhouse beat home side Kearsney 26-24 on Stott field; the 2020 match was cancelled due to Covid; the 11 May 2019 match window slipped outside the confines of the Covid nightmare and visitors Kearsney won 23-20 on Meadows; on 10 May 2018 home side Kearsney beat House 27-17; on 29 April 2017 home side Michaelhouse beat Kearsney 26-24; and on 30 April 2016 home side Kearsney beat Michaelhouse 62-22.
So, in the last 6 meetings it’s been 3 wins apiece, both first XVs having once put one over their opponents away from home during this time period – House winning by 2 points at Kearsney in 2022 and Kearsney winning by 3 points at House in 2019.
Long may this wonderful contest continue.
Basketball and water polo prevail while cricket suffers the inclement weather
A second week of cricket weather on cricket practice weekdays and water sports conditions on cricket match Saturdays meant that 15 cricket fixtures against Clifton College and the golfing showdown between Michaelhouse and Maritzburg College were washed out over the weekend.
Michaelhouse’s Murray Witherspoon reports that, as per last week, basketball barrelled on in the indoor centre, where Michaelhouse were in imperious form over visitors Clifton College, winning 15 from 15, including solid wins for the U16A (48-8), U15A (30-14), and U14A (26-7) sides.
Michaelhouse feature photo caption: Michaelhouse U16 paddlers Louis Souchon and Aiden Furby taking on Mission Rapid in the Campbell’s to Dusi Bridge race on Sunday.
Murray says that the first 3 periods of the first team basketball encounter saw a pedestrian spectacle, with Michaelhouse only able to convert a mountain of possession into a molehill of points.
Michaelhouse skipper Lucky Mabuza’s boys couldn’t miss in the final stanza though, nailing 3-pointers seemingly at will; and with mounting confidence, frustrating rebounds became crowd-inciting points.
“The scoreboard, no longer stuck in the mud, ticked over furiously until the final second for the home team’s 80-23 win.
“Next door, in the aquatics centre, the water polo match spoils were being more equitably shared. Clifton dominated the open age group winning everything on offer going into the first team game.
“The much-fancied Clifton first water polo team opened the scoring but were forced to content themselves with trading goals all the way through to midway into the third chukka.
“The home team faithful were just starting to believe that the upset of the season might be on the cards when Clifton’s sheer weight of class turned the tide. A late goal from Michaelhouse firsts could do nothing to avert the outcome, a 9-5 win for the Clifton College first team.”
Murray reports further that the Michaelhouse age groups were able to stem the Clifton tide. Proving their pedigree, House’s U14A boys followed up the B side’s win with an 8-3 victory of their own; while a little later in the morning, the Michaelhouse U15A (7-2) and B (8-5) lads were able to do the same.
Michaelhouse’s canoeists revelled in the high water levels on Saturday paddling into second place (Reuben Baldry) and fourth place (Robert Butcher) in the U18 event of the Dash & Crash on the Upper Umgeni, which also doubled as the first race on the 2022 interschool race calendar.
Aidan Furby crossed the line in first place with Louis Souchon in third in the U16 event while Jess Webber placed third in the U14 age group.
On Sunday, Rob Butcher partnered Dom Furby into third place in the U18 race of the Campbell’s to Dusi Bridge event, while Rourke Murray and Stuart Neilson claimed first place with Louis Souchon and Aiden Furby just behind in second place in the U16 race.
The weekend of 5 February 2022 weather besmirched
The Clifton cricket fixtures at Michaelhouse Saturday, February 5 have already been cancelled but at least the first team basketball under coach S’bu Cele are set for a 2pm start on the main indoor court at House.
The first team water polo match at House is scheduled for 12.10pm.
The Kearsney first team cricket match at Northwood looks in serious doubt of completion Saturday but the first team basketball clash set for 1 pm at Kearsney we hope is all set to take place.
All the basketball matches scheduled at Northwood have already been cancelled.
The Kearsney first water polo side are at the St David’s festival in Johannesburg.
The Kearsney first side are scheduled to play Northwood firsts on 15 February, a Tuesday, at 4pm in Durban North.
Meanwhile, DHS first XI beat Glenwood by 5 wickets in the 100-Ball Coastal competition on Tuesday, Glenwood totalling 147/4 to which School replied with 151/5.
Westville hosting DHS on the cricket field look in serious weather-doubt while the basketball firsts were scheduled for a 5pm start Friday at Westville . The basketball was scheduled for Thursday at 5pm (first team). No result, as yet.
Michaelhouse manage to salvage some fixtures from the weather
Only water sports remained afloat in the wake of the deluge on Friday and Saturday, the plug being pulled on 18 basketball and 14 cricket matches slated to be contested between Michaelhouse and hosts DHS on the weekend, It was an unwelcome break in momentum for the boys from Balgowan.
Just two fixtures were salvaged from the wreckage: a 30-10 win for Michaelhouse’s sixth basketball team against Hilton College; and a comfortable 8-wicket win for Michaelhouse’s first cricket XI in Durban.
Feature photo: Michaelhouse’s Jack Shooter, pictured here on Day 2, finished second in the U18 category of the Drak Challenge.
Skipper Jeremy Foss lost another toss and the hosts padded up. In what has become characteristic fashion, House’s seam attack pinned the DHS batsmen down in the muggy conditions.
With wickets falling like the persistent rain and a shower halting play mid-innings, the hosts simply weren’t able to gather any attacking momentum.
House leg spinner Josh Heath waded in after the resumption and helped himself to 4-17. Grade 11 seamer Michael Thornton’s 2-9 in five overs were instrumental in the hosts being all out for 99.
Foss played another innings from the front, but it was Tom McCall’s aggressive 57* which navigated the visitors into port.
Mid-week water polo fixtures against DHS cleared the way for seven matches to be played against Maritzburg College on Saturday. The Michaelhouse water polo club were in buoyant form, coming away from both fixtures with a clean slate of wins, including 16-0 (DHS) and 17-0 (Maritzburg College) wins for the U14A lads.
Weather couldn’t impact the ninth edition of the Michaelhouse U16 Basketball Tournament which was staged in the Indoor Centre on Sunday.
Nine schools and the Libros Northern Combined Development Team were met by the U16A and B teams of hosts, Michaelhouse.
Ten rounds of round-robin matches in the two pools determined the pecking order for the knockouts in the afternoon.
Having missed the opportunity the day before, Michaelhouse relished having a crack at DHS in the quarter final stage (21-15) but stumbled over the semi-final hurdle against Maritzburg College (14-20); but later bobbed back to beat Hilton College (13-12) for third place.
Kearsney College held their course for a tense 29-25 win over Maritzburg College to claim the laurels.
House’s paddlers enjoyed their club’s tradition of good form and the high water levels in the weekend’s Drak Challenge with five boys placing in the top 100.
Jack Shooter finished 28th overall and paddled into second place in the U18 category, with team-mate Aiden Furby coming home in second place in the U16 category.
* Info supplied and compiled by Michaelhouse’s Murray Witherspoon.
Michaelhouse away at DHS
The Michaelhouse first XI travel to the Berea in Durban where they take on the DHS first XI in a 50-over match on School’s Theobalds Oval come the 9am start Saturday.
Michaelhouse first XI vs DHS: Joshua Heath, James Kennedy, Robbie Lawrence, Luke Jankowitz, Michael Thornton, Jeremy Foss (capt), Duncan Davies-Webb, Murray Baker, Josh Kirsten (vice-capt), Kamo Rathepe, Tom McCall. Coaching staff: Ian Crawford and Darryn Mortimer.
The 2pm first team basketball match at DHS sees the following
Michaelhouse first team line-up: Luke Farndell, Matt de Villiers, Diego Fernandes, Lucky Mabuza (capt), Chris Masefield, Nathi Kumalo, Dwayne Mlaba, Abongile Xulu, Jordan Baxter, Dalitso Simwinwa, Sentso Tlelai. Coach: N Ngcobo
Michaelhouse first XI in convincing win
It was certainly a feather in the cap for the Michaelhouse first XI on the Roy Gathorne Oval in Balgowan last Saturday (22 January) after earning a meritorious victory over Northwood.
Michaelhouse compiled a match-winning 305 for the loss of 7 wickets in their allotted 50 overs. Northwood’s reply of 174 all out left the Men of House 131-run winners.
Northwood put Michaelhouse in to bat and a measured start by openers Murray Baker (57) and James Kennedy set the ideal platform for House, the first wicket falling in the 16th of the allotted 50 overs with the total at 96.
And that ideal platform was not undone as House captain Jeremy Foss (71), Thomas McCall (48) plus the contributions of Joshua Heath (25) and Robbie Lawrence (27) took the home side to a formidable 305.
When it was Northwood’s turn to bat the Michaelhouse bowlers were backed by excellent support in the field. The spin of Joshua Heath (3 for 14 in 5 overs) and the seam of Michael Thornton (2 for 14 in 6 overs) did much of the damage.
In the last 8 matches between the two schools’ premier cricket sides, House have won 5 and Northwood 1 while 2 matches had to be abandoned.
In the festival at Kearsney during the second week of this month, the Michaelhouse first XI’s opening match of the year was against the host school, which was abandoned due to the adverse weather conditions.
Michaelhouse had been bowled out for 226 and in reply Kearsney were handily placed at 145 for 2 before the curtains came down.
The Michaelhouse first XI coaching staff of Ian Crawford and Darryn Mortimer and the team captained by Jeremy Foss took on Clifton the next day and it was another tough encounter, House all out for 106 in pursuit of the excellent 253 for 7 compiled by the Clifton lads.
A 147-run loss is not easy to recover from but this Michaelhouse duly did, winning their next three matches, including the abovementioned defeat of Northwood this past Saturday.
Chasing the Futura Academy’s impressive 303 all out the Men of House contributed 304 for the loss of 8 wickets to record a heartening 2-wicket win.
A seven-wicket victory over Maritzburg College in the T20 match the following day, the last outing of the Kearsney festival, added further value to the Michaelhouse cause. In reply to Maritzburg College’s 121 for 7 in their 20 overs, Michaelhouse went past the winning post at 123 for 3.
This Saturday (29 January) the Michaelhouse first XI are scheduled to visit Durban High School (DHS) and will no doubt be looking to maintain their momentum.
After the DHS trip the Men of House are scheduled to host Clifton on the Roy Gathorne on February 5 before facing Glenwood (away) on February 12.
According to the fixtures I have seen, the first round of the Michaelhouse cricket year ends with the first XI taking on St Charles College on February 26 before the much-anticipated visit to the Hart-Davis Oval at Hilton College on Saturday, March 5.
1sts soccer flashback 14-8-2019: Men of House outplay Hilton
Oh how I miss it… flashback to 14 August 2019 and the opening of the newly minted Zungu Soccer Pavilion at Hilton College’s newly dedicated football ground, Zungu Field…
Results in recent years suggested there wouldn’t be much in it, but visitors Michaelhouse were full value for their first team’s 2-0 soccer victory over home side Hilton College on this balmy Autumn afternoon (14 August 2019) in the beautiful KZN midlands.
Jono Cook feature image: The Hilton and Michaelhouse first teams line up before the 14 August 2019 match that heralded the opening of the Zungu Soccer Pavilion on Zungu Field at the Hilton campus.
It is worth mentioning that Boys of Hilton were without their talismanic 2018 SA U17 soccer captain, match-winning goalkeeper and Manchester City trialist Constandino Christodoulou, who is out for two weeks due to injury.
And it is worth speculating whether Costi could have kept out the brace of goals that eluded his replacement, Jacob Kethro, but it would have taken a pair of phenomenal saves to deny first the on-song Men of House striker Alex Vermeulen and then fellow frontrunner the irrepressible Thabo Dlamini.
In truth, Jacob was offered very little protection by his defenders on both extremely well-taken goalscoring occasions so, Costi or no Costi, I think that this match belonged to House by a distance.
The Michaelhouse victory stage was set from the get-go, and Hilton were never given a chance to get back in the game or seriously threaten the visitors’ control.
After the initial midfield tussle for possession, a superb through-ball into the big box in the 5th minute found the athletic Michaelhouse striker Alex Vermeulen, who was strongly tackled before he could get in a goalshot.
In the 9th minute, great play on attack by Men of House centre back Luc Pousson saw a turnover but the versatile first XV rugby player was back in a jack-flash to close down a Hilton College counter-attack. This standout cameo of the Michaelhouse intent proved to be a blueprint for the game – Hilton were seldom given space.
Two minutes later a superb curling left-to-right free-kick by Michaelhouse left midfielder Mugabi Lubinga was placed square in the aerial zone of the dangerous Alex Vermeulen but a top-class header out of danger, under tremendous pressure, by Hilton College centre back Tapiwa Mushonga snuffed out the real and present danger.
Then nippy Michaelhouse marksman Thabo Dlamini got in the first of numerous goalshots in this absorbing match but Hilton keeper Jacob Kethro handled the threat comfortably.
It was all Men of House in the opening stages but the Hilton College tackles were decisive, accurate and very hard – there was no quarter asked or given in this annual soccer match – and one sensed that Boys of Hilton were beginning to find their feet.
The snag, though, was that Michaelhouse marksman and incisive 2019 KZN Inland U18 hockey forward Thabo Dlamini and partner upfront Alex Vermeulen [the 2021 Michaelhouse 1st XV captain), ably assisted by Siyanda Mkhize, were looking exceptionally sharp – and being supplied with a striker’s dream – lots of quality ball.
In the 17th minute Michaelhouse’s busy Gareth Kemp – playing in an attacking role behind the forwards – got in on the act but once again the goalshot attempt was fielded with relative comfort by the alert Hilton keeper Jacob Kethro.
A minute later it was Thabo Dlamini’s turn to just about wriggle his way through the crowded Hilton College goalmouth but the hungry sharpshooter was dispossessed at the moment critique.
Uncertainty under the sustained Michaelhouse pressure in the attacking third began to reveal itself when Siyanda Mkhize intercepted an errant Hilton College clearance but the Gareth Kemp goalshot was superbly saved by keeper Jacob Kethro diving to his left.
Into minute 21 and Gareth Kemp and Thabo Dlamini both got in (off-target) goalshots before a heavy tackle on Gareth Kemp a minute later earned Michaelhouse a direct free-kick just outside the big box, but the Alex Vermeulen strike flew high and wide.
The neutral scoreline was finally altered soon after, when Michaelhouse’s Kwanele Khumalo threaded his way through the left channel before his layoff was slammed into the Hilton College net by striker Alex Vermeulen to make the score Michaelhouse 1 Hilton 0.
Into the 25th minute and following a wayward Alex Vermeulen goalshot, Hilton took the opportunity to break out fast but their rare attacking move amounted to zero, as Men of House’s back four moved smartly to contain the threat.
Michaelhouse retaliated with back-to-back attacks at the other end that came close to nudging the scoreboard further in their favour.
About 29 minutes gone and finally Hilton garnered a great goalshot opportunity but captain Simi Bhembe blazed his strong strike over the crossbar, which led into halftime, the score reading Michaelhouse 1 (Alex Vermeulen) Hilton College 0.
* One could not help surmising that Men of House might come to regret they didn’t convert at least one more goalshot opportunity into something tangible on the scoreboard, but that would depend on what unfolded in the second half.
Into the second half we went and I don’t know what Hilton College coach Cele Mbanjwa said to his lads but they looked a much-improved outfit. Would it be sustained throughout the half, though? Michaelhouse were certainly not going to give up their lead without a fight.
And as if to underline the Men of House resolve, a crucial intercept by Michaelhouse centre back Luc Pousson stymied a top-quality Hilton attacking sortie out left.
7 minutes into the second half and a beautifully-weighted through-ball ball by Michaelhouse centre midfielder Michael Ross set up Alex Vermeulen but his goalshot brought a fine reflex save from Hilton keeper Jacob Kethro.
After their promising start to the second half, the pressure on the Hilton defence was beginning to build again – a la the first half –and not much more than a minute or two after the Kethro save, it was the pocket Men of House rocket Thabo Dlamini put in the clear… and he coolly picked his spot to jettison Michaelhouse into a 2-0 lead.
A match constant was the Michaelhouse and Hilton supporters cheering, chanting and drum-rolling their first teams on to greater heights as they searched for victory in this annual match in the long history of these two great South African schools.
Well into the second half, Michaelhouse captain and keeper Noah Stanger finally got a meaningful touch on the ball but the Hilton chance was once again lost and the retaliation from deep saw Michaelhouse striker Thabo Dlamini set free with a seemingly sure-fire gold-rush opportunity – only to see his goalshot flash past the wrong side (the right side, from a Hilton perspective) of the far post.
A heavy tackle in midfield on Hilton College captain Simi Bhembe saw a Michaelhouse man yellow-carded and one pondered whether this could be the moment opportune for Hilton to erase the 2-goal deficit?
However, Michaelhouse centre back Nick Crampton again displayed a telling example of the Men of House’s resolve in this intriguing derby – tall and strong – a tower of stability and measured calm – in the heart of the visitors’ defence.
Then when Hilton had a player banished to the sin-bin after a heavy tackle, the visitors’ 2-0 lead in this annual marquee soccer match was already inscribed in the history books for the Men of House.
And so it was; leaving the big crowd satisfied with what they had witnessed as a spectacle, albeit with slightly mixed emotions depending on which side of the N3 your allegiances may lie.
Hilton College 0
1 Jacob Kethro
12 Motheo Makwana
2 Kopano Segoale (vc)
14 Tally Tshekiso
3 Tapiwa Mushonga
6 Suubi Mugerwa-Sekawabe
11 Tanaka Matsa
7 William Raw
9 Wandile Zulu
10 Simi Bhembe (c)
8 Jonathan Tlhagoane
18 Sabelo Moshesh
15 Lwazi Mkatshana
13 Onye Adirika
17 Mamucha Munthali
5 Vuyo Zungu
Head coach Celo Mbanjwa
1 Noah Stanger (c)
3 Luc Pousson
8 Nick Crampton
5 Michael Bradford
6 Mugabi Lubinga
10 Kwanele Khumalo
1 Conor MacColl
7 Gareth Kemp
4 Michael Ross
13 Alexander Vermeulen
9 Thabo Dlamini (vc)
18 Matthew Craigie-Stevenson
14 Hugo Ayo
11 Letlotlo Kebonang
15 Arden Scholtz
12 Siyanda Mkhize
Head coach Ryan van Wyk
Hilton/Michaelhouse: ‘The butterflies and excitement in the build-up…’
“I remember struggling to sleep, my mind racing and hands sweating days before Saturday. The butterflies and excitement in the build-up during the week of a first team match were that much more intense for a Hilton/Michaelhouse.
“I still get goosebumps when I hear Brothers in Arms, the song that played during Main Quad war-cries on the Friday night.”
Thomas van der Hoven feature photo: Michaelhouse in possession on Meadows in the 5 May 2018 clash.
It is a measure of the impact the Hilton/Michaelhouse matches have on the participants when one learns that the comment above comes from a man who played 56 Tests for the Springboks before his career was sadly cut short at the age of 28. None other than the Michaelhouse Class of 2008’s Patrick Jonathan Lambie.
Of the 202 Hilton/Michaelhouse first XV rugby matches that have been played so far (Hilton won the inaugural match 6-0 in 1904) the Michaelhouse lads have won 99 with Hilton having won 93 and 10 of the matches having been drawn.
The excellent Murray Staats article that appeared in the Meander Chronicle May/June 2019 edition also mentions the rather unique scenario that played out in 1987 when the scorelines in the 2 matches were 7-7 and 9-9.
In a Covid-free world. this past Saturday, 12 June 2021 would have been the 205th match between the Hilton College and Michaelhouse first XVs. Because of Covid, however, this past Saturday marked the 3rd successive cancellation of this hallmark biannual event on the KZN and SA schools rugby calendar.
The last time the flagship rugby teams of Hilton and Michaelhouse met was on 15 June 2019 when Hilton prevailed 28-8 away on Meadows. Because of Covid the 2020 Hilton and Michaelhouse first teams never got the chance to experience what is a landmark event in the lives of everyone who has had the privilege of being a player in it over the last 118 years.
There was much hope and anticipation this year that the matches would take place – even if without spectators, which number in the thousands in a normal year.
Hilton, under the captaincy of number 8 and head of school Nick Hatton, had started the year with much promise, accounting for Northwood 31-6 away on 8 May in what, in recent times, was a late start to the season (because of Covid) before beating Durban High School (DHS) in convincing fashion 44-5 at home in their lone match on Gilfillan the following Saturday.
Then came the controversial call from government to ban school contact sports, despite government admitting that there was no evidence to suggest Covid was being transmitted during matches. Instead, government said, the virus was being spread outside the confines of the school grounds. Studies in Britain confirmed that there was no evidence to suggest Covid was being spread during matches.
Due to the delays in the school year and other Covid-related concerns, what would have been a very short season for Hilton anyway – just 7 matches were scheduled this year – has to date been cut down to the 2 matches already held. The matches that followed the DHS match – against Glenwood and Westville, which surely would have been hotly contested, were cancelled, as with this past Saturday’s Michaelhouse match.
There are still 2 matches left on the Hilton calendar, that against Kearsney College on 17 July and then Michaelhouse at home on 24 July in what would have been the return clash.
With the current Covid third wave issue, the prospects of these matches taking place appear almost nil. So for the second successive year, the two school’s premier rugby players will never know the thrill of being part of something that becomes a lifelong treasured memory for the participants.
As with Nick Hatton and Team Hilton, the disappointment for first XV fullback and captain Alexander Vermeulen and Team Michaelhouse must be profound.
Michaelhouse managed 4 matches before the cancellation, beating Clifton 30-5 in Durban before edging home side Kearsney 26-24. Then came 2 narrow defeats, going down 17-10 at Westville before a 12-3 loss to Glenwood 4 days later in their lone home match on Meadows.
Men of House still have 2 matches left on the calendar, at home to St Charles College on 17 July and then the away match versus Hilton on 24 July.
Of course this current scenario encompasses all KZN school winter contact sports so there are thousands of boys (in the context of this story) missing out on an experience that, for many of their predecessors, led to treasured memories and lifelong friendships.
Indeed, when Old Boys of the KZN10 schools gather, their teams and match-ups of yesteryear often form the opening lines of conversation and before long the fond reminiscences are being swapped back and forth.
With the school sporting calendar so congested as it is; competing sports treasure their time to shine during their allocated time slots through the year, allied to academic priorities, it seems that even if the Covid situation were to improve rapidly it would be too late for thoughts of squeezing in a Hilton/Michaelhouse rugby fixture somewhere.
We are all poorer for it.
So near yet so far… let’s hope we’re not too far off from it happening again
Around end-September 2020 would have seen the 61st edition of Maritzburg College’s stellar Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week… but it was not to be. These annual four days of cricket, glorious schoolboy first XI cricket, have been etched into my sporting heart for so long it felt almost like a bereavement at the time.
Feature photo: Some of the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week’s most distinguished alumni. See how many you can identify and then attach them to their schools.
Yes, there are far more important things in life, yet at the same time one must not minimise the impact of the special things that make the trials and tribulations of life (almost) bearable.
As a reminder of what we have taken for granted – until last year- here is a look at the KZN10.com first XI line-ups that represented our province’s premier cricket schools at the 2017 OMCW.
Let’s not worry about scores etc. Let’s just reflect on names and the personal and collective cricket memories they conjure up.
Maybe you’d like to share some of them?
2017 KZN first XI’s at the 58th Oppenhemer Michaelmas Cricket Week
Hosts Maritzburg College first XI
Scott Steenkamp (capt), Damian Walden, Brad Sherwood, Matt Crampton, Michael Horan, Brynley Noble, Andre Bradford, Jayden Gengan, Cameron Holloway, Jared Campbell, Dean Dyer, Keagan Collyer. Staff: Dave and Elmarie Pryke
Clifton College first XI
William Masojada (capt?), Scott Quinn, Matthew Montgomery, Joshua Brown, Luke Shave, Simon Holmes, Ariq Chetty, Daniel Freitag, Daniel Elgar, Connor Veitch, Jason Groves, Muhammad Noorbhai, James Feuilharde. Staff: Matt Savage, Yash Ebrahim, Oliver Cash
Kearsney College first XI
Blaise Carmichael, Patrick McGrath, Rory Bloy, Luke de Vlieg (capt), Robbie Koenig, Steven Conway, Michael Brokensha, Marco Gouviea, Carl Heunis, Jared Brien, Jethro Strydom, Bradley Beaumont. Staff: Hubert von Ellewee, Jonathan Beaumont
Michaelhouse first XI
Sean Gilson (capt), Tom Price, William Glassock, William Norton, Thomas Trotter, Fraser Jones, Nathan Wesson, Michael Brownlee, Liam England, Declan Newton, Gift Mokoena, Cameron Leer, Michael Meneer. Staff: Dean Forword, Jason Wulfsohn
Northwood first XI
Slater Capell (capt?), Ali Hamid, Jordan Edy, Andile Mogagane, Daniel Zvidzui, Alvin Chiradza, Samkelo Gasa, Wander Mtolo, Jeremy Martins, Mpumelelo Xulu, Luke Stevens, Cameron Ciaglia, Nicolas Deeb. Staff: Divan van Wyk, Riaan Minnie
Hilton College first XI
Robbie McGaw, James Ritchie, Michael Sclanders, Gareth Schreuder, Chris Meyer, Brandon McMullen (capt), Michael Booth, Alistair Frost, Jared Venter, Alex Roy, Mike Frost, Kamogelo Selane, William Haynes. Staff: Dale Benkenstein, Sean Carlisle
DHS first XI
Safwaan Barradeen, Kribashan Naidoo, Liam Green, Martin Mugoni, Sumiran Ramlakkan, Jordan Bryan, Joshua Stride (capt?), Brayden Sambhu, Sinolin Pather, Taine Owen, Tawanda Zimhindo, Rodney Mapfudza. Staff: Oss Gcilitshana, Florian Genade
Glenwood first XI
Daelen Fynn (capt?), Jared Paul, Thamsanqa Khumalo, Cameron Reid, Caleb Alexander, Joe Jonas, Nikhil Prem, Hayden Rossouw, Alex Pillay, Khwezi Gumede, Jaden Hendrikse, Nathan Archibald. Staff: Jarryd Chetty, Brandon Scullard, Bevon Futter
Westville first XI
Carl Jairaj (capt), Matthew Pollard, Sam Gervasoni, Josh Brady, Josh Parker, Caleb Pillay, Brandon McCabe, Hayden Bowman, Jaryd Cook, Bonga Chepkonga, Keshlan Govender, Jandre Viljoen, Mazwi Meyiwa, Jarred Oosthuizen. Staff: Fabian Lazarus, Thomas Jackson, Chester Comins
* Not sure if all the captains are correct. Please advise. Thanks
Michaelhouse ’86: a loaded team, quarantine and the first overseas tour
With Covid-19 having wreaked havoc with sport all around the world, including, of course, the schools’ rugby season, we’re taking a look back at some past teams and, on this occasion, we’ll focus mostly on the Michaelhouse 1st XV of 1986, which also had its own issues with quarantine. The side’s captain, Bruce Herbert, chatted with KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan.
Shortly after the start of the 1986 season, an outbreak of hepatitis saw the Michaelhouse 1st XV quarantined to the school sanatorium for three weeks, (the rest of the school continued to function normally) undermining the form of a very talented side, which produced five Natal Schools’ players, including Bruce Herbert (prop), Philip King (hooker), John Pool (lock), Richard Firth (flank) and Murray Collins (scrumhalf). That was, at the time, a Michaelhouse record.
Bruce started in the 1st XV in 1985, having made the move straight from under-15 A after the departure of Mike Reilly, which opened up a place at tighthead prop. He was still 15 when he made his debut on a pre-season tour to East London against Selborne College. Up against players three or four years older than he was, it was no surprise he termed it “a massive baptism of fire”.
Michaelhouse were captained by Wayne Witherspoon, who was an excellent mentor, said Bruce. He used the lessons he learnt from Wayne when he was appointed captain the following year.
Captain Ben Parham tells how Michaelhouse 1st XV 1996-97 beat Hilton three times in a row
The 1985 Michaelhouse 1st XV, captained by Wayne Witherspoon. Bruce Herbert is directly behind him.
He also mentioned some standout memories of the 1985 season:
Facing Glenwood at Glenwood, ‘House were 3-6 down, but they had a penalty right in front of the uprights to draw level. Victor Anderson, the fullback, who played Natal Schools in both 1985 and 1986, duly slotted the ball between the posts to make it 6-6. But… The referee ruled that Richard Firth had been in front of Anderson and the successful kick was disallowed.
“Richard was next to me and we were definitely behind the kicker,” Bruce reckoned.
There was a late escape against Kearsney in a match played in Botha’s Hill. Down by a few points, Michaelhouse faced a 22m drop out from the home side. The kick didn’t gain much height and lock Sean Stringer plucked it out of the air before racing through to score to win the game for ‘House.
Then there was a game against Maritzburg College, a team that had lowered the colours of Grey College that year in a hugely anticipated showdown. Bruce reflected: “I remember thinking how small the College side looked before we ran on, a schoolboy error. I guess I was expecting much larger guys but, don’t get me wrong, they were tough. The loose head I scrummed against looked like a third year varsity student! Just remember, I was 16 years old.”
Michaelhouse won the first of the Hilton/Michaelhouse derbies when Victor Anderson scored all of the red and white hoops’ points in the last minutes of the contest. Hilton reversed the result in the second clash, claiming a 12-6 win in an ill-tempered affair.
It was tough for a 16-year-old Bruce Herbert in 1985, but it was excellent preparation for 1986, even though he remained young, turning 17 in April.
To put it into context, Bruce was born in Eshowe hospital on 11 April 1969. Pete Smith, who attended Maritzburg College, was born in the same hospital the day before Bruce. Yet Bruce captained Michaelhouse in 1986 and Pete captained College in 1988, two years later! By then Bruce had played for two years for the Natal and SA Air Force under-20 teams.
Fortunately for Bruce, during his time at Michaelhouse he captained some very strong teams at age group level. He led the under-14 A team in 1983, the under-15 A side in 1984, and then moved up to the 1st XV the following year, culminating in him captaining the team in 1986.
The under-14 A team lost just one match in ’83, going down to DHS away from home, while the under-15 A side fell in their last game of the season only, going down to Hilton at home. “Methinks a bit of complacency crept in,” he ruefully admitted.
Along the way, though, there were wins over the always-strong Maritzburg College at both under-14 A and under-15 A level, as well as victories over the big government schools: Westville, DHS and Glenwood.
Bruce attributed much of that success to the under-14 A coach, Gordon Paterson, who put together five excellent seasons while in charge of the team, with winning percentages of 92% in 1977, 85% in 1978, 100% in 1979, 80% in 1982 and 92% in 1983. He missed out on the 1980 and 1981 seasons because he was busy with his PhD at Stellenbosch University.
So, on to the 1986 1st XV. Statistically, it was the most successful Michaelhouse team of the 1980s, winning 14 and losing five games for a 74 percent winning mark. With four Natal Schools’ players in the pack and the Natal Schools’ scrumhalf, it was a powerhouse up front. But hepatitis likely cost them an even better record.
A win that stood out was a 52-32 defeat of the Old Crocks, who were loaded with former Natal provincial players, including former Springbok eighth-man and Natal skipper Tommy Bedford. That Old Crocks’ team included Tommy Bedford (c), Tim Cocks, Gary Joubert, Laurie Sharp, Tubby Hannaford, Robbie Savage, Garth Giles, Peter Ripley-Evans, Rodger Bond, Brian van Rooyen, Wally Watt, Dave Coleman, Brian van Zyl, Dick Cocks, and Matt Taylor.
The clashes with DHS and Marizburg College were undermined by illness. College flyhalf Udo Goedeke, in an interview with KZN10’s Jono Cook in 2018, said Michaelhouse were favourites to win their showdown.
“I think they sensed victory and all their regulars were keen to play. Injury and illness meant quite a few had to pass late fitness tests.
“It was very close at halftime. We led 9-6. The second half was incredible. [SA Schools’ centre] Jeremy Thomson really turned it on for us. It turned into the Jeremy Thomson Show; he ripped their defence apart.
“The College team’s contribution was awesome. It was a massive second half for us. To be fair, I think the Michaelhouse injury and illness concerns pre-game were a contributing factor. They faded badly in that second half.”
The game ended 40-6 in College’s favour, which was testament to just how much the hepatitis had hit ‘House. The following week, the DHS game was a very close affair with the Durbanites edging it 12-10.
Later in the season, Michaelhouse showed their true colours in a narrow defeat to Bishops at the Private Schools Rugby Festival at Hilton. Bishops were very much the Cape Town equivalent of College in those years and renowned for the flowing, attractive rugby they played under the legendary coach Basil Bey. To put it into perspective, the Bishops’ side was unbeaten in 1986, beating the likes of Paarl Gym, Paarl Boys High and Paul Roos (they didn’t play Grey College), as well as all the Cape’s southern suburbs schools. (SACS, Rondebosch, Wynberg etc.)
“We were unlucky to lose 13-18 to Bishops,” Bruce Herbert said. “We knocked on the ball over their line! As they say, could have, should have, would have.”
The Natal Witness carried a report on the Michaelhouse versus Bishops thriller.
At the same tournament, though, ‘House dominated Saint John’s 22-4 (remember tries were worth four points back then) and Saint Stithian’s 30-3.
They finished their season with narrow wins over Glenwood (18-15) and Hilton (19-17), but went down to Westville (18-29). “Westville had a really good game against us. We hammered them up front. However, they ran us off our feet with some really good speed and handling,” Bruce commented.
It was a remarkably closely contested season among Natal Schools: Michaelhouse beat Hilton twice, Hilton beat College on College Old Boys’ Day, College beat Michaelhouse, Glenwood beat College, College beat Glenwood, Michaelhouse beat Glenwood. The Kearsney vs Michaelhouse game was called off due to the hepatitis quarantine.
That same year, Natal, coached by Dave Dell, and with six College boys, five from Michaelhouse, three from Westville, two from Hilton, one from Kearsney, one from Estcourt, one from Linpark and one from Glenwood enjoyed a strong showing at the Craven Week in Graaff-Reinet.
Michaelhouse’s Natal Schools’ representatives of 1986 with MHS masters: Bruce Herbert, Philip King, Rich Firth, Mr Gordon Paterson, John Pool, Murray Collins, and Mr Richard Aitchison.
The one player from Kearsney was Nkululeko “Skweegee” Skweyiya, the first ever black player to be selected for the Natal Craven Week team.
They opened their tournament against the always strong Northern Transvaal and after a tremendous tussle came away with a win, which was clinched through a penalty try after a late tackle on Jeremy Thomson. They followed that up with a narrow 4-6 loss to Eastern Province before beating Far North.
The Natal Schools’ team that competed in the 1986 Craven Week in Graaff-Reinet:
Back row: Warren Wilson (Maritzburg College), Richard Firth (Michaelhouse), Richard Dolbey (Maritzburg College), John Pool (Michaelhouse), Sean Platford (Westville), Brenton Catterall (Maritzburg College), Sean Fry (Westville), Trevor Labuschagne (Glenwood).
Middle row: Murray Collins (Michaelhouse), Dallas Harris (Hilton College), Philip King (Michaelhouse), Udo Goedeke (Maritzburg College), Joe Fernandez (Linpark), Nkululeko Skweyiya (Kearsney), Leon van Rooyen (Escourt), Alastair Hawley (Westville).
Front row: Bruce Herbert, Dave Dell (coach), Anthony Gilson (Maritzburg College, captain), L. Kirkland (Manager), Carl Jankowitz, (Hilton College) Rod Blamey (chairman), Jeremy Thomson (Maritzburg College).
Jeremy Thomson and Leon van Rooyen (Estcourt) were selected for the South African Schools team. Bruce shared a story which Jeremy Thomson told him about the SA Schools’ team photo. Back then, of course, there were no digital cameras, so everything was done on film. Imagine the horror felt by the photographer when, after photographing the side for their official team shot, he went to develop the photos and discovered that he had failed to put any film in his camera!
Unsurprisingly, Bruce has particularly vivid memories of the Hilton vs Michaelhouse derbies in 1985 and 1986. “They were generally where the underdog often pulled off a remarkable win, like was the case in the first match at Michaelhouse in 1985,” he said. “The news coming from Hilton was that they were going to put 50 past us. Hilton had a good team and had had a successful season so far. As things turned out Victor Anderson scored all our points, scoring 13 points in the last eight minutes. I think we won 13-7.
“Etienne De Villiers who had been a teacher/coach at Michaelhouse for 16 years said that in all his time of watching Hilton/Michaelhouse matches this ’85 match was the best one that he had ever seen.”
Hilton wanted pay back and they got it in the rematch at Hilton, winning 12-6. “Both our Natal Schools Players, James Wilson (scrum half) and Victor Anderson (full back), got injured in the first 15 minutes and had to leave the field,” Bruce recalled. “The late tackle on Victor was so late that the video cameras had moved on and didn’t pick it up. James got a finger in his eye. I remember it being an ill-tempered match. I think the ref lost control to some extent. Quite a lot was said about the match for some time.”
In 1986, the first Hilton/Michaelhouse was played in front of television cameras and a massive crowd at Hilton. Bruce recalled: “As the Michaelhouse 1st XV got off the bus I was called to one side and interviewed on TV. My interview was never screened, only [Hilton captain] Dallas Harris’ interview was aired, much to the amusement of my mates and family. I don’t think I spoke clearly enough and/or maybe mumbled too much?
“Anyway, we did the business on the day, winning 9-7. Rowan Varner, the Hilton eighth-man (and SA Schools’ fast bowler) missed a penalty in the last seconds of the match, just skimming the left upright.
The second match at Michaelhouse was a particularly memorable clash because of a stunning fightback from the home side. They were 0-14 down at the break (remembering that tries were worth four points at that time) and Hilton had crossed for three tries.
“I gave the team a serious bollocking at half time and to their credit we bounced back, winning 19-17. I think there were plenty Hilton parents and Hilton supporters that struggled to put the corks back into their champagne bottles as the final whistle sounded!” Bruce said. “Mike Jeffery scored two magnificent tries within minutes of each other.”
Sadly, Mike lost his life shortly afterwards in a car crash while travelling to Johannesburg.
Michaelhouse 36-3 Sandringham
Michaelhouse 16-4 Richards Bay
Michaelhouse 37-9 John Ross College
Michaelhouse vs Kearsney College – cancelled
Michaelhouse 29-15 Linpark
Michaelhouse 52-32 Old Crocks
Michaelhouse 22-9 Estcourt
Michaelhouse 18-30 Old Boys
Michaelhouse 40-0 Weston
Michaelhouse 6-40 Maritzburg College
Michaelhouse 10-12 DHS
Michaelhouse 15-0 Voortrekker
Michaelhouse 9-7 Hilton College
Michaelhouse 29-3 Alexandra
Michaelhouse 22-4 Saint John’s College
Michaelhouse 30-3 Saint Stithians College
Michaelhouse 13-18 Bishops
Michaelhouse 18-15 Glenwood
Michaelhouse 16-29 Westville Boys’ High
Michaelhouse 19-17 Hilton College
Played 19, won 14, lost 5
Points for: 437, points against: 250
At the end of November, Michaelhouse toured abroad for the first time. With final exams being written at the time, the side was afforded only seven Sundays of practice before their departure. It was a challenge, especially since the South African season had ended some months earlier.
Due to the sporting isolation of South Africa at the time, the team travelled in civvies.
The 1986 Michaelhouse 1st rugby team overseas touring party. Bruce Herbert is front and centre.
They played two matches, beating the Welsh side Pontarddulais 8-6 and then Sherbourne School of Dorset, one of England’s top school teams at that time, which included two England under-19 players in their ranks, 12-8.
But then the Michaelhouse team arrived back at their hotel to discover that the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) had overruled the Welsh Youth Rugby Union (WYRU) and declared in the press that the tour unacceptable.
The WYRU encouraged ‘House to continue with their tour but, Bruce remarked: “Effectively, we now became a team on the run.”
On 7 December, the match against Haverford West went ahead, but it was undone by the failure of the referee to arrive. A local coach took over the whistle and refereed in his Wellington boots! His blowing left a lot to be desired.
“No matter what we did, we were penalised out of the game and lost 6-8,” Bruce said. That match was followed by “a strange affair”, a 35 minute practice game against Monmouth, a local independent school, which ended with Michaelhouse 8-5 to the good.
Next up was a visit to Sophia Gardens for an outing against a Cardiff Invitation XV on 14 December. A strong showing from Michaelhouse produced a good 22-8 victory, which was followed by a splendid function arranged by the hosts.
The next day, though, matters took a turn for the worse. BBC TV arrived at their hotel and asked to speak with the team. They had been advised not to talk to the media because no matter what they said their words would be turned against them. That evening they were on the 18:00 news.
“We became aware of a little red car tailing us when we were travelling in our two minibuses,” Bruce remembered. “Once or twice we were able to give the driver the slip. On one occasion we forced him onto an off ramp that we weren’t taking. As it sped past in its attempt to find an on-ramp, the driver received a wave and a cheer from all of us on the bus. We did not in any way feel threatened as this surveillance was proving to be a nuisance only.”
Questionable refereeing blighted Michaelhouse’s sixth match against a Monmouth Invitation XV, which saw ‘House beaten 12-4; the man who arranged the game also refereed it and had his son playing in the Invitation side.
Eight of the side then headed to Seefeld in Austria for two weeks of skiing, while the rest of the touring party flew back to South Africa from Heathrow.
Bruce Herbert concluded: “In summary, and I quote from Gordon Paterson’s Book, there is Genius in Passion, ‘While we had achieved a number of excellent results, we had not performed consistently to the full potential of the team during the first part of the season. To my mind the hepatitis had been a major factor that caused an early season glitch in our progress. Again, this is typical of life itself and the true test is the capacity to come back when you have been knocked down. I believe that they were revealing the skill, fitness, tenacity and sportsmanship that we wished to see as the example set by the first fifteen.'”