A dead-quiet minute’s silence tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday at The Oval in London, then a beautifully sung SA national anthem by beautiful English soprano Laura Wright, then the first-ever rendition of God Save the King, also movingly sung by Laura, in honour of the new monarch King Charles III.
If you are pressed for time, start watching at 3:20
A beautiful few moments as cricket pays its respects to Her Majesty The Queen. pic.twitter.com/3QnZiFEOKq
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 10, 2022
Legendary coach JM “Skonk” Nicholson’s 1972 Maritzburg College first XV is widely regarded as one of the half-dozen-or-so best rugby teams the school has produced in its ever-distinguished 159-year history.
I had just turned 8 at the start of the 1972 schools’ winter sports season and that year is my earliest – and most vivid – memory of watching College on Goldstones although my late dad, Roy (Maritzburg College Class of 1944) recalled taking me along in 1970 and 71.
Skonk’s 1972 team featured a remarkable 10 Natal Schools’ Craven Week players and, had it not been for untimely injuries, a few more names might have been added to that illustrious list.
And, as was Skonk’s wont, this Flagship Rugby Team of The Year 1972 epitomised what is a mastery of the game’s fundamental elements, the increasingly unfashionable but ever-necessary platform skills that lay down the framework for the eye-catching fancy stuff that captures the hearts and minds of the myriad schoolgirls (who are also catching the eye) in the precinct of Basher Ridge.
And to cap it all, the 1972 Boys in Red Black and White – astutely captained by the little general, scrumhalf Roy Davidson, enjoyed all the other hallmarks of the renowned Maritzburg College rugby sides from both earlier and, there after:
A rampaging machine-gun-efficient ruthless tight five who took no prisoners before or after the game – I spot the broadest shoulders in the team in prop forward Pip Anderson (second from left, back row) though for some reason I can’t recall right now whether Pip was the this celebrated team’s loosehead or tighthead(?). Peter Rodseth, Colin Heard, John Nolte et al perhaps you can enlighten me?
The trademark marauding Red Black White loose forwards fed a surfeit of quick, clean possession to a classically nimble of-thought-and-invention halfback combination in Messrs Davidson and his Perfect 10 – the most natural athlete of all natural athletes – one helluva flyhalf, Neville Daniels, whose tactical acumen with ball in-hand-and out- orchestrated the Grand Show that thrilled the Goldstones Faithful to the end.
And then came the Rolls Royce moments… what a joy it was to see the likes of Top Gun winger Laurie Sharp and Silky Smooth 15 Mark Hedley at their schoolboy peak; sublime skill-sets that were an ace-of-base MasterMix – a fabulous salad dressing of no-frills economy of movement sprinkled with the most sophisticated motor skills yet seen on the schoolboy stage.
Aaaaa-aaaaah it was good.
It isn’t always a simple matter to show, in the space of a few hours, what one stands for and what one is made of. But the collective attitude, aspirations, community, culture and spirit that is Maritzburg College could never have been so brightly to the fore than it was this weekend at Westville.
To witness something so vividly and emphatically come to fruition must have been a special treat for those who labour over these ideals while teaching in the classrooms and on the playing fields day in and day out.
With Maritzburg College first XV staging one of the greatest comebacks in its long, proud history and capturing 14 victories overall in 17 matches against Westville, it was a day never to be forgotten for the Red Black White.
Feature photo caption: Maritzburg College number 8 Sphephelo Mbonambi lunges for the try line to score. Photo: Dan Becket
College’s 1st XV were 7-26 down at one stage, before scoring 35 unanswered points in the second half and winning the match 42-26, an outstanding performance.
College first XV head coach Tim Orchard reports on what went down in Westville:
“On Saturday, Bowden’s was the venue of a mouth-watering encounter between Maritzburg College and Westville. Both sides were looking to get a vital win before the end of term, with this being Westville’s last game of the season.
“Westville started the match the much better team and raced away to a comfortable 26-7 lead at halftime with College looking all but dead and buried. The expectant Westville crowd were relishing the opportunity to get one over their rivals from Maritzburg but one must never underestimate a College team with their backs to the wall.
“The first half of the fixture was all Westville as they had the wind at their backs, which allowed them to pin College deep in their own half. This territorial pressure paid off handsomely as Westville were allowed to accumulate points at ease through some very basic College errors.
“College did score a try of their own, when in the 18th minute Sphephelo Mbonambi broke off a rolling maul to score in the corner. The try was converted but that was the only real attacking College had the entire half.
“Westville entered halftime 26-7 up and looking all set to score a big win against their rivals.
“The second half was an exact mirror image of the first, but now with the College team with the wind at their backs, having the ascendency and playing all the rugby.
“In what was to become a famous come-from-behind victory, Liam Prinsloo barged over to get the ball rolling with a wonderful solo effort, which was converted by AJ Knoetze.
“In the 50th minute, Kuhann van der Berg scored the first of his brace of tries to put in motion a juggernaut performance by the College team, who now smelled blood and were dominating proceedings.
“Keagan Goddard scored next after coming on as a second-half replacement to put College in the lead for the first time during the match. The score, incredibly, now stood at 28-26 and College looked set to score more points in the half.
“Kuhann van der Berg scored his second try to further extend the lead now to 35-26, with AJ Knoetze in fine form with the boot. College carried on hammering away at the Westville line with Sphephelo Mbonambi scoring at the death to silence the Westville crowd, to place the score at 42-26 with AJ Knoetze kicking over the conversion to end the match and to bring down the curtains on a fine College second-half performance.”
College won 14 of the 20 rugby matches they played on the weekend, losing 6. Against Westville, College played 17 games and won 14, losing just 3. Apart from the electrifying 1st XV comeback, the College 2nd XV – after being 19-0 down, fought back magnificently to secure a 29-24 victory.
Tries: Mbonambi x2, Prinsloo, Goddard, and van der Berg x2
Conversions: Knoetze x5
Summary of Scores
Team Opposition Venue Result Score
1st Westville Bowdens 1 Won 42-26
2nd Westville Bowdens 1 Won 29-24
3rd Westville Bowdens 1 Won 31-27
4th Westville Bowdens 1 Won 24-5
5th Westville Bowdens 1 Won 34-5
6th Westville Bowdens 1 Lost 7-8
16A Westville Bowdens 1 Won 25-15
16B Westville Commons 1 Won 6-5
16C Westville Commons 1 Won 29-17
16D vs Michaelhouse 16C Tarpeys Lost 5-28
15A Westville Commons 1 Lost 5-12
15B Westville Commons 1 Won 28-19
15C Westville Commons 1 Lost 12-19
15D Westville Commons 2 Won 50-7
15E vs Michaelhouse 15D Baileys Lost 0-15
14A Westville Commons 2 Won 25-8
14B Westville Commons 2 Won 55-0
14C Westville Commons 2 Won 28-0
14D Westville Commons 2 Won 56-0
14E vs Michaelhouse 14D Far Meadows Lost 0-50
Surrounded by family, Welsh rugby legend Phil Bennett (73) passed away peacefully at his home last night, and with his departure from this earth, brings closure to the spark that ignited my love of rugby.
It was 1974. I was a tender 10. Main beach at Ballito; a balmy winter’s day, as only our KZN coastline can so effortlessly provide. On the back of a Peter Stuyvesant 30’s pack, my maternal uncle Graham was busy scribbling my dad Roy, and his, Springbok team for the third Test match against the British Lions…
“The Lions are already 2-0 up in the series; the series is just about lost, how are we going to stop Bennett?” said my Dad. “Damned if I know,” was uncle G’s forlorn response. “The way he ran rings around us with that second Test try was incredible. He is capable of scoring tries from deep inside his own half!”
“Uncle Graham, who is this guy?” was my enquiry, as the Ballito surf pounded in just metres away.
“My boy, Phil Bennett is the Welsh wizard, he’s a flyhalf, same position you play at Merchiston, and he’s just unstoppable.”
That was the magic moment.
We didn’t have TV in SA in 1974. I spent unforgettable time with my dad, Uncle G and my brothers at the Ballito cottage, glued to the radio, listening to the third and fourth Test commentaries.
We were already 3-0 down in the 4-Test series when we somehow managed to snatch a highly controversial 13-13 draw in the fourth Test to prevent a whitewash. The Cook/Dockray family were delighted. Me even more so: “At least we stopped Bennett from winning, Dad!” I shouted: “We did it!”
But Phil Bennett, aka “Benny”, was secretly “My” player.
Just 25 then, Benny possessed a blindingly deceptive, thrilling sidestep that was poetic in its execution, leaving seasoned tacklers grasping at thin air as he waltzed his way away.
Threading through despairing posses of defenders. I was mesmerised by the seemingly effortless (as is the wont of all great sportsmen) ease and grace of the man.
When television and TV sets arrived in 1976, I got my mom Alicia to take me to Dicks Radio in Longmarket Street in Pietermaritzburg, as they showed reels of the ’74 British Lions Boks series in the shop window.
Every day I was there, glued to the window. It got to the point where the manager told my mom that he would call the police unless she kept me away.
Aah, but Phil Bennett, what a player!
Bennett played his part (see video above), too, in what is widely considered “The Greatest Try Of All Time”, scored by the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973, collecting the ball in his own 25 (now 22) and producing a couple of astonishing sidesteps to start the move, which rooted defenders to the spot, and led to Gareth Edwards’ famous try.
As quoted here from The Telegraph, Phil’s motivational speech to his Welsh teammates ahead of a Five Nations game against England in 1977 is considered one of the “fire-and-brimstone” greatest.
Ordinarily a man of great warmth and generosity, this was fiery Phil at his best: “Look what these bastards have done to Wales! They’ve taken our coal, our water, our steel! They buy our homes and live in them for a fortnight every year! What have they given us? Absolutely nothing! We’ve been exploited, controlled and punished by the English! And that’s who you are playing this afternoon!”
Bennett, along with his halfback partner, the legendary scrumhalf Gareth Edwards were pivotal in Wales’s dominance of the Five Nations in the 1970s. Phil Bennet made his first foray into Welsh folklore at the age of 20, yet he might have had to wait years longer had arguably the greatest Welsh flyhalf of them all, Barry John, not retired at the young age of 27 while at the peak of his powers, citing the unwelcome media attention of “living in a goldfish bowl”.
One can only wonder what Barry John would have made of the media attention today. I actually met Barry in the early 2000’s when I was working at the Western Mail in Cardiff, for whom he wrote a weekly rugby column. A good bloke, Barry John.
1974 British Lions captain Willie John McBride once described his key teammate Phil Bennett thus: “He was to rugby what Ian Botham was to cricket, Johan Cruyff to football and Ilie Nastase to tennis. He had a certain magic, an undefinable quality. He had the audacity to attempt the unusual and to lift spectators out of their seats.”
Go well, Phil Bennett. Thank you for inspiring a wide-eyed 10-year-old Natal boy’s love of rugby.
Some Phil Bennett Facts
Played 413 times for his beloved Llanelli Scarlets (the Welsh valley where he was accorded an almost messianic status)
Phil scored 131 tries and 2 535 points overall, and was in the famous Llanelli team that beat the 1972 All Blacks
He captain the 1977 British Lions to New Zealand
There is a statue of Phil Bennett in Felinfoel, his home village
In the 1979 Queen’s Honours List, Phil was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
In 2005 Phil was accorded a place in the World Rugby Hall of Fame
* What a man! What a player!
The passports of seriously assaulted former Maritzburg College and SA Schools cricketer Mondli Khumalo’s mom and uncle have been fast-tracked and approved and the pair are expected to fly out early next week to be at his hospital bedside in England, provided their UK visas are approved in time by the British consulate in Pretoria.
SA U19 World Cup cricketer Mondli (now age 20) was viciously assaulted on Sunday morning by a gang of thugs outside the Dragon Rise Pub in Bridgwater, Somerset and is still in a critical condition in the intensive care unit in Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.
Jonathan Cook feature photo: Mondli Khumalo and Jayden Gengan were a potent fast bowling threat for the Red Black and White on Maritzburg College’s Goldstones ground.
The Avon and Somerset Police have arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm to Mondli.
‘Mondli has fitted in perfectly at our club, he’s a wonderful character
and extremely humble and we all love him to bits’
Mondli is the contracted overseas pro at North Petherton Cricket Club and has impressed with his fast bowling in particular, as well as with the fresh energy he brings to the first team and the club as a whole.
Superintendent Richard Turner of the Avon and Somerset Police said in a statement to Bridgwater Mercury: “Mr Mondli Khumalo remains in a serious but stable condition after undergoing emergency treatment.
“A full investigation is still under way, and we’ve carried out house-to-house enquiries and are continuing to review CCTV footage from around the area, to ensure we gather all available evidence.”
UK club teammate: ‘You genuinely couldn’t meet a nicer guy than Mondli and we’re all hurting badly’
CEO of the KZN Cricket Union and the Hollywoodbets Dolphins, Heinrich Strydom, has praised the SA community for their support, and the powers that be in rallying to the cause and getting the passports sorted out efficiently. Ma Khumalo and Mondli’s uncle are expected to have their passports delivered by Friday.
Heinrich said that hopefully the Khumalo pair’s UK visas will be fast-tracked over the next couple of days.
“As you can imagine, it has been an extremely difficult time for Mondli’s mum and she is understandably very distressed, we all just want Mondli to recover,” Strydom told Bridgwater Mercury.
“Mondli’s mother and his uncle will travel together; most likely they will fly out of Durban,” he said.
Lloyd Irish, one of Mondli’s friends and teammates at North Petherton, told Bridgwater Mercury that as a club the boys are supporting Mondli and his family in Durban as best they can. Lloyd also praised Mondli’s agent, Rob Humphries.
“Rob Humphries who has been fantastic.”
Lloyd said that all at North Petherton Cricket Club had found a new friend in Mondli: “He has fitted in perfectly at our club, he’s a wonderful character, extremely humble and we all love him to bits.”
Lloyd said further that as a club the North Petherton family is in “complete shock and devastation”.
“You genuinely couldn’t meet a nicer guy than Mondli and we’re all hurting badly.
“Mondli is an amazing, exceptionally talented cricketer, he’s made a great start [with his 10 wickets for us] although all of this seems unimportant at the moment; we are all praying he can come through this and hopefully get back to playing cricket.”
Mondli is contracted by KwaZulu-Natal Inland during the South African season and has been capped four times at first-class level.
The CEO of KZN Inland, Jason Sathiaseelan, has told Club Cricket SA that Mondli is in an induced coma.
“The surgeon has reported that the operation was as successful as it could be and is positive that Mondli can recover from this.
“We have been in contact with Mondli’s mom and we are doing our level best to obtain a passport for her, so that she can be with Mondli during this trying time,” Jason said earlier.
The cricket club said on social media: “All at North Petherton Cricket Club are in shock at the incident in Bridgwater that has led to our much-loved overseas player Mondli Khumalo being hospitalised in Southmead Hospital in Bristol this [Sunday] morning.
“We extend our heartfelt support to Mondli for a full and speedy recovery. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and colleagues in South Africa.
“Our thanks also go to all those who have helped Mondli, especially the health service staff on scene and at hospital.”
Jono: I know the entire Maritzburg College community and further afield are praying for Mondli as he fights to get back to full vibrant health again.
We are all with you, Monds… For hearth and home
Pro aris et focis
The Hilton College first XV beat the Maritzburg College first XV 30-11 on a jam-packed Goldstones Saturday afternoon 28 May 22. Hilton deserved it. They were more efficient in exploiting opportunities.
It was not a match that reached any great heights of skill and/or drama as per the many encounters over the decades since the first-ever match between these two great schools in 1875.
Hilton’s win takes the overall records to Matches Played: 172; College Won 116; Hilton Won 45; Drawn 11.
The outcome was disappointing for the hundreds upon hundreds of Old Boys who had come from far and wide to celebrate the 125th Reunion of Maritzburg College Old Boys Association (established 1997) but there was great pride, too, in witnessing the current first XV boys putting every ounce of effort into this match.
It has been a long road since the establishment of Maritzburg College in 1863 and, at 159 years, the oldest boys’ high school in KwaZulu-Natal is proudly standing the test of time.
Indeed, it is excelling, stronger than it has ever been.
An occasion like no other… the biggest crowd I have seen on Goldstones in the 52 years I’ve been watching the first XV.
Overall, it was a rousing day for the Maritzburg College rugby fraternity with a gross scorecard reading, Played 16 Won 13 Lost 3; a gross “Points For” tally of 513 compared to 151 “Points Against”.
At U16 level versus Hilton it was 3 from 3 for the Red Black White in scoring 136 points with 14 against.
In the U15 age group another 3 from 3 with 113 for and 19 against.
And in the U14 category another 3 from 3 with 118 points overall to 24 (which included a D team versus C team stagger match).
There were also notable Maritzburg College wins in stagger matches against others schools; notably the 22-14 U16D versus Howick U16A, U15E 10-7 vs Linpark U15A, and the U14E 17-15 vs Howick U14A.
MARITZBURG COLLEGE RUGBY SCORES
Played 16 Won 13 Lost 3 (Points for 513, Points against 151)
1st Hilton Goldstone’s lost 11-30
2nd Hilton Goldstone’s lost 17-29
3rd Hilton Goldstone’s lost 14-19
4th Hilton Goldstone’s won 22-13
5th Hilton Goldstone’s won 17-3
6th Hilton Goldstone’s won 10-0
7th Hilton Snows won 55-0
16A Hilton Goldstone’s won 36-14
16B Hilton Lamond’s won 50-0
16C Hilton Lamond’s won 50-0
15A Hilton Snow’s won 31-11
15B Hilton Lamond’s won 32-8
15C Hilton Nicholson’s won 50-0
14A Hilton Snow’s won 22-14
14B Hilton Lamond’s won 56-5
14D Hilton U14C Leaches won 40-5
8th Michaelhouse 7th Snows won 26-5
9th Linpark 2nds Snows lost 5-34
16D Howick U16A Hill’s won 22-14
16E Michaelhouse U16D Leach’s won 24-5
15D Howick U15A Hill’s lost 12-19
15E Linpark U15A Nicholson’s won 10-7
14C Michaelhouse Hill’s won 38-7
14E Howick U14A Leaches won 17-15
In 2012 I was in Glasgow with the SA women’s hockey team and on an off day I fulfilled a vague childhood dream. I went to the home of Rangers, Ibrox Stadium, and was confronted with a sign at the main entrance that said Ibrox was closed, the club bankrupt and in administration. I knew this beforehand, but that pre-knowledge did nothing to prevent the feeling of loss.
It was quite a jolt, as when a young boy I was fascinated by the fierce rivalry that existed between the two Glasgow and Scottish giants, the Catholic-supported Glasgow Celtic and the Protestant-supported Glasgow Rangers, who would play before massive crowds at the national football stadium, Hampden Park.
Feature image: Photo of an Old Firm clash on 27 April 2008. Rangers in blue.
Credit By Excalibur1953 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3952810
The “Old Firm” as Celtic and Rangers are known, played one Cup final before a crowd of 131 000. In 1937 a crowd of 150 000 crammed into Hampden Park to watch the Scotland team play against England.
Emerging from bankruptcy, Rangers the club resurrected from the ashes of gloom and doom and were forced to start in the fourth division of Scottish football. They began to pick up the pieces and thrive once more., getting back into the Scottish Premier League in 4 seasons. The structure of the club was changed, its focus was refined.
Rangers formulated a key policy that relates to recruiting players with the right “fit” for the club.
The most important consideration is, can the club afford the player. With an annual revenue in the region of £50 million compared to the big European clubs £500 million or so, you can see the constraints.
To put it into perspective, Manchester City bought Jack Grealish in August last year for £100 million, that’s twice the annual income of the Rangers club. Just one player.
So, Rangers focus their minds on seeking out bargains, players who have somehow slipped out of interest from the rich clubs. They also seek players who are comfortable playing in front of 50 000 expectant fans at their stadium, Ibrox.
The players also needed to be mentally tough, technically skilled enough to play in a team who seeks to aggressively dominate possession.
Coming back to the present, Rangers found what they were looking for in players like Leicester City academy boy Calvin Bassey, ex-Premier League midfielder in John Lundstram and others.
Crucially, Rangers also identified the right fit in a manager. Liverpool and England legend Steven Gerrard taking the Glasgow club to great heights before the distinguished Dutchman Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over just 6 months ago and continued the evolution of a club that was doomed to disappear as recently as 2012.
And with these considerations in order, Rangers started winning. Last night, in Seville, they played in the Europa League final against favourites Frankfurt of Germany. It was touch-and-go all the way, Rangers eventually losing on penalties on an emotion-charged evening in Spain.
Just getting to the final was a massive achievement for a club that was dead and almost buried just 10 years ago. The one and only time Rangers had previously won a European competition was 50 years ago.
Last year Rangers won their 55th Scottish Premier League title. The club is celebrating the 150th year of its existence. This Saturday, Rangers play Hearts in the final of the Scottish Cup.
The Rangers tale is one of punching way above their weight. Given their financial limitations, it is an incredible achievement. Deloitte, the global giant financial services firm, has a money table that lists the top 30 highest earning football clubs in the world. Rangers, notwithstanding their 50 000 fans at each home game, are nowhere.
Rangers’ financially far better off rivals in the recently completed Europa League were top 30 money league clubs Napoli, Leicester City, West Ham , Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Seville.
Topping the money league are the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germaine, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Juventus.
To sum it up, the Rangers executives have recruited personnel quite brilliantly, players and coaching staff who behave properly off the pitch, who don’t court night-time controversy. Rangers’ success is a story about attracting players of good character, players who realise they are part of the whole and not bigger than the club or their teammates.
Rangers’ legions of fans, however, are a somewhat different kettle of fish. Wednesday night’s Europa League final in Seville, Spain was an accident waiting to happen.
100 000 Rangers fans descended on Seville with 50 000 Frankfurt fans joining them. The stadium capacity is 42 000 fans. And this was the outcome.
Absolute chaos!!! Changing the ways of their fans may be Rangers’ toughest battle yet.
Wikipedia: Celtic and Rangers have played each other 430 times in major competitions: Rangers have won 168 matches, Celtic 161 matches, and 101 ended in a draw. The biggest attendance at a Rangers Celtic match is 118 000.
The clubs have large fan bases around Glasgow and Scotland and have supporters clubs in most towns throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland and in many cities around the world. In 2005 the presence of Rangers and Celtic was estimated to be worth £120 million to the Scottish economy each year.
I felt it a few weeks ago. DHS first hockey team were playing Maritzburg College on Papes Astro in the KZN capital. It was an out-of-body feeling – as if some “thing” was fighting its way into my psyche, my very body.
I had seen the DHS boys entering the arena and there was a purpose about the way they walked and quietly talked; then the “Good morning sir” with an accompanying open-faced smile, in the boys’ eyes a genuine sense that they meant it, were not obligated to do it.
Feature caption: DHS first team celebrate a goal against Maritzburg College on Papes Astro in the KZN capital. School lost narrowly in a game that could easily have gone the other way.
I don’t get this “feeling” every day. From that point onward I made a conscious effort to discern whether that “feeling” about this team would stay with me. It did.
Often, you are only as good as your leader, and in School’s first ever director of hockey, first team coach Michael Baker, Durban High School had found the ideal man to resurrect the sport. A Michael Baker quote I found on DHS social media sums it up. “Don’t waste your time looking back. You are not going that way.”
In deciding on a headline, the word “catalyst” came to mind: not sure if it would work, I looked up its meaning and here it is: “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction – without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.”
Perfect. The Michael Baker substance has galvanised a chemical reaction in the boys of DHS hockey. He is still pretty much the same Michael Baker. But his “effect” has been nothing short of remarkable.
And what a journey it has been: In 2016 Michaelhouse first team beat DHS 8-2 and 11-0.
As the DHS Foundation’s Andrew Shedlock put it in a wonderfully moving tribute to School’s director of hockey: “DHS had arrived at Michaelhouse with one-and-a-half hockey teams.
“A coach missed the bus to Michaelhouse. DHS U16A were thrashed and the game was cut short, and to make matters worse some of the U16 team had to fill in for the 1st team, the 1st team result …… embarrassing to say the least.”
This year, on 14 May, again DHS took on Michaelhouse and the DHS results read: Played: 11, Won: 7, Drew: 1, Lost: 3,” says Andrew. “Our 1st team won 4 -2 whilst our U16A team won 4-1.”
Shedlock goes further: “Five years ago, in 2017, our results against Maritzburg College were as embarrassing. The DHS 1st team lost by a record score and our U16A and U14A teams’ games were also stopped short when the score was 10-0 to College, that day DHS only had four teams.
“In 2018, DHS under the new headmaster, Tony Pinheiro, employed a director of hockey, his name Michael Baker – and what a masterstroke it was. What Michael has done for DHS hockey over the past five years in beyond comprehendible.”
I think Mr Pinheiro saw something in Mr Baker that went way beyond hockey knowledge. I think he saw in Michael Baker a hockey educator who would inspire the boys, instil in them a strong sense of self-belief.
Michael Baker is very much his own man. Everything about him tells you that. I saw him in action with the KZN Coastal U13 team a few years ago. They loved their coach. They won lots of matches. They were a happy group who loved playing.
Andrew Shedlock again: “Michael has grown DHS Hockey from 4 teams to 12 teams and this without DHS’s own Astroturf during that time. Michael has turned DHS hockey from a ‘weekend walkover’ into one of the most formidable hockey schools in KZN and, dare I say, South Africa.
“Why I share this story, is that there are some people who just go about their business, they don’t seek the accolades and the glory, they just do their job, and that is… Michael Baker.”
Shedlock, who had a distinguished sporting career as a DHS schoolboy and after school, and who has given much of his time since, said this of Baker: “We as DHS Old Boys are extremely grateful for what you have done for DHS hockey.”
From the dire situation just a few years ago, Baker and his coaches have transformed School hockey into a group who recently achieved 36 players being selected for the various KZN Coastal age-group teams.
Shedlock added: “DHS Old Boys wish to congratulate our hockey coaching staff, who have taken our hockey programme to the next level. To our boys, all 36 of you, a massive congratulations to all of you on these historic selections. In School’s hockey history, this is the largest KZN selection of players by an absolute landslide.”
As a DHS parent put it: “Quite unbelievable what can be achieved with leadership and vision.”
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.
There is a full-house of Saturday afternoon 7 May 2022 first XV rugby team match-ups between the 10 schools that KZN10.com places its focus.
I will be in the Kent Pavilion enjoying the 23°C forecasted dry weather for the 3pm kick-off on Goldstones at Maritzburg College when the pride of the Red Black and White take on Northwood.
Feature photo caption: Can the DHS first XV repeat the quality of performance on Van Heerdens (where they take on Hilton Saturday) as they did here on Goldstones a few matches ago; a memorable 38-14 win over The RBW?
Both sides have had their moments this year, and their share of disappointments. So, consistency will be the primary focus along with an emphasis on playing controlled, constructive rugby in minimising the needless errors and maximising opportunities when they inevitably will present themselves.
For the 2022 Northwood first XV the unforgettable memory of the 9 March 2019 golden-Goldstones 30-26 victory over the premier Maritzburg College rugby team of that year will still be fresh in the minds of those fortunate Knights who were in grades 6, 7 and 8 those three years ago.
The 14-14 first XV draw in 2020 against College firsts at home on Reece-Edwards will also be close to the Knights’ hearts, so history and the incentive will surely be there.
For the impressively talented 2022 Maritzburg College first XV there is no greater incentive than getting back on the winning trail as the countdown nears for Reunion Day 28 May versus Hilton College. Now just 3 weeks away, it is time overdue to become more “Team” rather than just the mixed sum of their parts.
The most widely regarded match of the day would have to be that at Van Heerdens in Durban where the Old Gold and Navy Blue of the DHS first XV tackle the White with Black Trimmings of Hilton College.
The Durban High School first XV clash with Hilton College on Van Heerdens has the ideal kick-off conditions of 24°C on their splendid turf in what, as said in the previous par, is shaping up to be the marquee KZN10.com Match of the Day.
Not since 2018 have DHS parents and supporters been allowed to watch rugby as a combined force while sitting around Van Heerdens at School! And to this end video messages from esteemed members of the DHS rugby brethren have been flighted, urging the School family to come together as one for this momentous occasion against a fabulous Hilton College celebrating its 150th year.
DHS have played some champagne rugby this season and the consistent Hilton first XV are surely going to test their mettle to the fullest extent. Indeed, the side that is better able to cope with the inevitable match challenges may well come away with the spoils of victory.
Sufficient spirit and resilience is at a premium. It should be an absolute cracker of a contest.
The scene at Bowdens will also reflect the balmiest of dry, solid underfoot conditions and perfect rugby temperature to deliver a classic contest between the pride of the Gryphons and the Green Machine of Glenwood.
Expect an extremely physical contest – that is a given.
And on the picturesque Meadows of Michaelhouse one can expect hordes of House and Kearsney supporters cheering on the respective schools’ flagship rugby teams. It would take a brave man to predict the outcome, but I suspect it will be House by a whisker. But, hey, I freely admit that sometimes I am wrong, wrong and wrong.
The final of the KZN10.com school first XV matches takes place in Durban where Clifton College host long-time friends and rivals St Charles College. And once again I could suggest a winner but, hey, I did that in the paragraph above and that is enough sticking my neck out today.
Needless to say, the 5 first team hockey matches between the KZN10 schools in the late morning Saturday are also sure to provide much in the way of fierce competition and close contests. I will be firmly in place around Papes Astro at Maritzburg College come the 10.20am push-back when the Red Army take on coach Justin Collins’ Knights of Northwood.