Cash-strapped Glasgow Rangers rise from the ashes

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,

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.


Joe Miller of Glasgow Celtic scores the only goal of this 20 May 1989 Scottish Cup final match against Glasgow Rangers before a huge crowd at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Photo: Daily Record


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.

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.

Michael Baker the catalyst in DHS hockey resurgence

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.


The DHS team after beating Michaelhouse.


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.



‘Don’t waste your time looking back. You are not going that way,’ says Michael Baker…


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.”


The 36-player DHS representation in the 2022 KZN Coastal provincial teams is School’s biggest in history.


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.


The DHS first hockey team of 2022 with Michael Baker and staff.


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.”

Van Heerdens rugby field at DHS looking immaculate. The DHS resurgence is across the board.

#DHS #School #Horsefly #BlueTyphoon

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.


Kearsney outside centre and co vice-captain Ayabonga Mngaza appears to just about evade the attentions of opposite number Campbell Ridl, who scored one of House’s tries on the day. Photo TRACEY VAN DEN AARDWEG


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.


Great KZN10 first XV rugby & hockey match-ups Saturday

There is a full-house of Saturday afternoon 7 May 2022 first XV rugby team match-ups between the 10 schools that 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 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 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.



KZN 10 schools weekend rugby wrap

The Hilton College first XV ensured that the Michaelhouse first XV will have to wait a bit longer to secure their 100th win in this generations-old friendly rivalry, winning the 203rd match between the two schools’ first rugby teams 32-17 at Hilton on Saturday.

Michaelhouse’s director of the Old Boys’ Club, Admissions & Marketing, Murray Witherspoon, reports that the occasion was worth the Covid-enforced three-year wait.

“There couldn’t have been a greater sense of occasion on the back of the host’s 150th birthday celebrations, and bonhomie and friendly banter on the banks were as much a feature of the day as the rivalry on the field.”

Murray reports that Hilton started strongly, and proceedings could well have turned into a rout had it not been for excellent Michaelhouse defending. House then scored twice before halftime to stay in the match.

Tracey van den Aardweg feature pic: Kearsney number 8 Cameron Roache’s try makes the game safe for the home side against Northwood.

Hilton scored on two occasions in the second half after House had been on the attack and the brace of tries secured the Hiltonians’ 94th win over Michaelhouse.

The return match at Michaelhouse is on 18 June.


Photo Maritin Ashworth: The action was unrelenting at Gilfillan Field on Saturday in the 203d match between the Hilton College and Michaelhouse first XV’s.


Meanwhile, at Botha’s Hill, home side Kearsney hosted Northwood for their annual FNB Classic Clash in what were ideal playing conditions.

The Kearsney report herewith:

“Kearsney dominated play in the first 25 minutes, enjoying the lion’s share of the territorial battle. The pressure ensured three converted penalties by Matthew Bergset for a 9-0l lead within the first 15 minutes.

“The hosts were rewarded with an unconverted try in the left corner by winger Lihle Maqhugula after some good work by the attacking team and good interplay between the forwards and backs. Maqhugula still had a lot to do after receiving the ball and showed good pace to dive over for a 14-0 lead.

“Northwood kicked too long from the ensuing kick-off and Kearsney used the possession well to get back into the attacking zone. The hosts were awarded another penalty from a breakdown infringement, which Bergset converted for a comfortable and deserved 17-0 lead.

“Kearsney then seemed to lose focus and Northwood found renewed intensity, to eventually find themselves deep in Kearsney territory. The visiting captain elected a scrum from an awarded penalty. The desired outcome was achieved from a well-rehearsed backline attack move, to score close to the upright for a converted try to decrease the deficit to 7-17.

“The last few minutes of the half saw a territorial kicking battle, which did not lead to much and the halftime whistle followed soon after.

[Into the second half and] “Northwood produced a purple patch, scoring two tries from good tactical play and some poor tackling by some of the home team defenders. The first try came from a poor exit kick by Kearsney and hard running by the counter-attack backs.

“From the breakdown close to the Kearsney line the visitors moved the ball to the blind side and dived over for an unconverted try.

“Soon after that, Kearsney launched a superb attack from a lineout from their own 22m and progressed close to the opponents’ 22m, but the ball was turned over at the breakdown.

“Northwood kicked the ball to escape the pressure, and it bounced favourably for the chaser after some poor defence by the Kearsney players. Northwood’s player ran 40m to score an unconverted try to level the scores at 17-17.

“Kearsney regained composure and soon an opportunity was seized by flanker Salu Mqobongo who outsprinted the defence for a good 60m, for Bergset to convert and regain the lead at 24-17.

“Some exciting, although error-ridden, passages of play followed as both teams were motivated to clinch the match. Kearsney used their opportunities better and eventually eighthman Cameron Roache displayed some power work from a breakdown close to the visitors’ line when he picked from the base to dive over. The lead was now extended to 29-17 with only a few minutes left on the clock.

“Northwood didn’t give up and attacked up until the last minute, but the hosts’ defence held and they remained victorious 29-17.

“Outstanding players for the Kearsney team were the inspirational captain Jason Brien, Cameron Roache and Salu Mqobongo.”

The other KZN10 match in KZN saw Westville beat hosts St Charles College 46-17.

It was a set of tough matches for the three KZN teams at the Wildeklawer Festival in Kimberley with DHS winning the lone match of the six matches played by DHS, Glenwood and Maritzburg College.

Inter-KZN10 results in KZN
Saturday, 30 April 2022

Kearsney 29 Northwood 17
Hilton College 32 Michaelhouse 17
St Charles College 17 Westville 46
KZN results at Wildeklawer Festival in Kimberley
Saturday, 30 April 2022

DHS 31 Menlopark 15
Paarl Boys’ High 38 Maritzburg College 3
Paul Roos 43 Glenwood 20
Monday, 2 May 2022
Helpmekaar 25 Maritzburg College 16
Oakdale 20 DHS 12
Affies 49 Glenwood 14

Much food for thought last Saturday on Goldstones

Looking back at the premier rugby match on Goldstones last Saturday afternoon, the on-song Durban High School (DHS, School) first XV had too much armoury for the Maritzburg College first XV, winning 38-14 – School’s biggest ever winning margin (by 24 points) – after leading 19-7 at halftime.

Saturday, 30 April sees DHS tackling Menlopark at 9.10am, Maritzburg College facing Paarl Boys at 3pm, and Glenwood up against Paul Roos at 6.30pm – all at the 2022 ABSA Wildeklawer Festival in Kimberley.

Also tomorrow, 30 April, Kearsney host Northwood at 3.30pm, St Charles College are at home to Westville at 2.30pm and Hilton College host Michaelhouse at 3pm, while Clifton College have a bye.

On Monday in Kimberley, Maritzburg College face Helpmekaar, DHS meet Oakdale and Glenwood tackle Affies. Kick-off times on Monday still to be determined.

Feature photo caption: Few things sweeter for a DHS rugby first team than to win on Goldstones as the 2022 side did last Saturday.

Back to last Saturday on Goldstones, the outcome also earned DHS the Skonk Nicholson Trophy, which is played for on each occasion the two teams meet.

It was an exciting game to watch, that’s for sure. Sitting where I was, in the Kent Pavilion, gave a panoramic view of the action-packed proceedings.

Six tries to two is an emphatic margin and the boys in Navy Blue and Old Gold were full value for their success, albeit College were their own worst enemies, too many relatively basic errors that played right into the alert visitors’ skilful hands.

In short, the DHS basics were superior on the day, as was their speed of thought. School were very quick to pounce on College mistakes and one had a strong sense that headboy, captain (in 5th form and, now, 6th form) and number 6 flanker Own Morgenrood’s side inherently knew what was required.

As School pointed out on the DHS Facebook page, “Well done to Maritzburg College who won the majority of sporting fixtures. Thank you for hosting us.

“Whilst all local fixtures are of utmost importance, College are by far our biggest rival and we couldn’t be happier with this result!”

DHS had come off the back of the Standard Bank Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival having won the Most Attractive Team Play trophy, while College had a lukewarm St Stithians festival over the same period.

The sizeable crowd engendered a great vibe, the atmosphere and camaraderie in keeping with the unique ethos of KZN rugby and doing justice to the longstanding shared history between the oldest boys’ high school in KZN (1863) and the oldest boys’ high school in Durban (1866).

College left two tries on the table, thanks to the final pass going astray, while DHS left one on the table – due to the final pass not being gathered.

Three of the six DHS tries came from attacking lineouts and this area was a feature of their play.

I thought experienced referee JP Pretorius had an excellent game, managing the players well and thereby allowing the match to flow.

Maritzburg College

15 Luyanda Kunene
14 Ezra Everton
13 Lithelihle Bester
12 Liam Prinsloo
11 Kuhann van den Berg
10 Spha Ngcobo
9 AJ Knoetze (capt)
8 Sasha Kadira
7 Keagan Goddard
6 Kyle Wilken
5 Kuhle Mtimkhulu
4 Sphepelo Mbonambi
3 Pieter Brits
2 Elbie Mouton
1 Diego Antoniades
Head coach: Tim Orchard

15 Minenhle Ngcamu
14 Hopewell Nthsangase
13 Tholithemba Sibisi
12 Dwight Pietersen
11 Maurice Willemse
10 Deano Boesak
9 Zak Smith
8 Siseko Mani
7 Connor Carson
6 Owen Morgenrood (capt)
5 Weilhrich Basson
4 Sybrand Erwee
3 Lwandile Mshengu
2 Christian Everitt
1 Simphiwe Ngobese
Head coach: Peter Engledow

Maritzburg College (7) 14
Tries: Luyanda Kunene, Keagan Goddard
Conversions: AJ Knoetze (2)
Durban High School (19) 38
Tries: Maurice Willemse (2), Christian Everitt (2), Tholithemba Sibisi, Deano Boesak
Conversions: Deano Boesak (4)


#RedBlackWhite #CollegeSport #GoCollege  #DHS #School #Horsefly #BlueTyphoon

#InCaseYouMissedThem Schools’ 1st XV Results (23April 2022)
(Home teams first)
Maritzburg College 14 DHS 38
Hilton College 66 St Charles College 3
Jeppe 0 Westville 15
Michaelhouse 38 Northwood 18
Glenwood 31 Kearsney College 10
St Andrews School Bloemfontein 7 Clifton College 40


And what a thrill for DHS U14A to beat their College counterparts 26-0 on Snows.


Red Army edge DHS in high-quality hockey thriller

The Maritzburg College first hockey team shaded Durban High School (DHS) firsts 2-1 in an exciting contest played out in front of an appreciative crowd at Papes Astro on Saturday morning (23 April 2022).

The final scoreline could have just as easily been 5-4 either way or 5-5 such were the quantity and quality of openings carved out by the protagonists – and the at times exceptional saves made by the respective goalkeepers.

Feature photo caption: DHS director of hockey and first team coach Michael Baker is the leading light in the hockey resurgence at Durban High School.

The opening 10 or so minutes saw DHS (School) establish the lion’s share of possession and territory, transferring the ball smoothly left and right, probing for the requisite space to free up the receiver or create an extra man. The Red Black and White defence was composed and patient in absorbing this pressure, leaving School with little that was tangible on the electronic scoreboard.

in the 13th minute Maritzburg College (MC, College, Red Army) suddenly accelerated and it looked to me that it was C Fulton who found space in the attacking third, his pass left just evading the outstretched stick of R Graham in the six-yard box.

A minute later College again poured through all-to freely in a manner that DHS would not have been altogether pleased, and it was the prolific striker Cameron van der Vliet, lurking expectantly inside the six-yard box, who deftly slid the ball past the keeper’s left for the opening goal (MC 1 DHS 0).

DHS came back strongly and captain O Ndondo made a telling inroad through the left channel that placed the School skipper inside the strike zone, and it took a no-nonsense tackle from strongly-built Red Army defender A Carter to repel the threat.

So absorbed I was in the game, it felt as if the first 25 minutes of this match went by in a flash, a sure sign that the hockey contest on show was a compelling spectacle for the sizeable crowd.

In a development that held much promise in the 32nd minute, College centre back and captain Matthew Ponter unfurled a big aerial ball from deep that found L Seshemane but School’s left-side defender was up to speed in containing the danger.

Given the quality and threat posed by College, who continued pressing for that elusive 2-goal advantage, the boys in Oxford Blue and Old Gold were under extreme pressure at times. The Red Army’s left-side striker skilfully stole along the baseline to earn a penalty corner. A neat variation left ensued from the set-piece, A Styan’s shot well-saved by DHS keeper K Henry.

Literally seconds from the hooter, DHS conjured up a great goalshot chance inside the six-yard box, only for the College defence to deal with the danger in collective fashion, successfully scrambling the ball away.

Into the second half and School’s elegant centre back slideruled a defence-splitting left-right diagonal to B Gqweta whose interchange with S Zondi brought the latter oh-so close to equalising matters on the scoresheet.

Seven minutes into the second half, DHS’s incessant pressure finally brought reward, experienced umpire Ian Griffiths having no hesitation in award School a penalty corner at the Princess Margaret Drive End, and DHS captain O Ndondo made no mistake with a solid drag-flick (1-1).

As umpire Griffith told afterwards: “In the second half the tempo and quality picked up another notch.”

Summing up a satisfactory outing from an official’s perspective, Griffiths said, “This was an attractive and relatively easy game to manage.”

Seven minutes left in the third chukka and College came close to edging in front on the scoreboard once again as play continued to open up across all corners of the playing surface.

As the clock ticked down, both sides carved out a couple of excellent chances. The Red Army’s I Mosupye forced a penalty corner, from which a double slip-left emerged, only for DHS shot-stopper K Henry to pull off a remarkable reflex save.

School finished the third chukka in convincing fashion, N Ndonga forcing a pair of outstanding saves from the in-form College keeper Roan Marais, the second of which demanded a stunning diving effort low to his right.

With eight minutes left in the match, the Red Army’s G Winlock, I Mosupye and (it looked like) L Seshemane combined beautifully to unpick the DHS defence and Cameron van der Vliet duly delivered his second, and matchwinning, goal (2-1).

College forced another penalty corner soon after; DHS survived and raced away to win a penalty corner at the Ron Jury Sports Centre End. With a small matter of bare minutes and seconds left, it was crunch time, but once again the Red Army defenders were up for the challenge, to leave the final score reading Maritzburg College 2 DHS 1.

DHS captain O Zondo summed it up for his team-mates in saying to “We are pretty happy with the way we played, but we should have converted our many chances better.”

Red Army head coach Kyle Emerson: “It was an exciting game with end-to-end action between two tactically good teams that played structured hockey.”


As I understand it, this DHS first hockey team principally consists of grade 11 boys who have come through four school years under the overarching guidance of director of hockey Michael Baker.

With Michael Baker at the helm, DHS hockey is undoubtedly on the right track, and we can look forward to the rest of this season and the 2023 year with much enthusiasm.

The politeness and well-groomed attire of the DHS boys who passed my way was also most noticeable and a pleasure to see.

Well done, School!

Skonk Nicholson U14 and U16 rugby festival on at Maritzburg College

Then Skonk Nicholson U14 and U16 Rugby Festival returns to MaritzburgCollege today (Wednesday) after a long and frustrating interlude caused by the pandemic, much to the joy of many a young schoolboy rugby player, parent and spectator.

There is another round of matches tomorrow (Thursday) and Saturday.

Feature image caption: What every Maritzburg College U14A and U16A rugby player dreams of happening to them one day soon… the Basher Ridge faithful on Goldstones showing their appreciation for another Maritzburg College first XV try.

The wonderful programme for the festival, including the fixtures, can be found on the Maritzburg College website at…/uploads/2022/03/SNRF.pdf which includes, among other enlightening historical pieces on #RedBlackWhite rugby, a host of fascinating details about the indomitable doyen of schoolboy rugby coaching, JM “Skonk” Nicholson, as well as an address from acting headmaster of Maritzburg College, Matthew Marwick, and a message from director of rugby Hein Kriek that encapsulates the fresh new hope after 30 months of inactivity-born frustration.

The Maritzburg College media release says that all the fixtures and results will be on the College Sport App, which can be downloaded for free from your favourite App Store.

Further, Maritzburg College is excited to be partnering with SuperSport Schools who will be live-streaming the games. To access the matches, download and register on the SuperSport School app to enjoy all the action.

Maritzburg College wishes all the teams the very best for the festival and trust that all the games will be played and watched in a spirit of camaraderie and good sportsmanship.


Remembering one of Durban High School’s finest rugby teams

Who, who watched them play, could forget the scintillating and successful rugby delivered by the 2018 Durban High School first XV.

Head coach Scott Mathie, forwards coach Ronnie Uys and manager Lyle Matthysen were gifted with a remarkably talented, enthusiastic and dedicated group of DHS rugby boys, but their guidance was surely the catalyst that set up the consistently high quality of play through the season.

Here are just some of the milestones I gleaned from the DHS archives of the compilation by Mr Matthysen.

The DHS 1st XV was unbeaten at home in 2018, the first time since 2003 that a DHS 1st XV was unbeaten on Van Heerdens.

The 60-10 victory over Westville was the first time that a DHS 1st XV had scored 60 points against Westville; this also resulted in the greatest winning margin (50 points) since this particular inter-school match began.

The 2018 “Double” was achieved over Westville; the last time back-to-back victories were recorded against the Westville 1st XV was in the 2002 and 2003 seasons.


Extreme right Scott Mathie DHS 1st XV head coach with forwards coach in white shirt Ronnie Uys


The 50-27 victory over Northwood was the first time a DHS 1st XV scored 50 points on Northwood’s main rugby field, Reece-Edwards.

The 2017 season was the first time a DHS 1st XV had scored more than 40 points against Maritzburg College – and this was achieved on Goldstones. The 2018 season saw another win for DHS – and on this occasion it was the first time that a DHS 1st XV had scored more than 40 points on Van Heerdens against a Maritzburg College 1st XV.

Although DHS no longer play College twice a year, the 2-17 and 2018 victories ensured the first back-to-back victories against College since 1999

The 41-34 win over Kearsney College 1st XV in 2018 was the first time that a DHS 1st XV had scored over 40 points against Kearsney. The victories over Kearsney in 2017 and 2018 made it the first back-to-back victories over Kearsney since the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

The two victories over Michaelhouse in 2017 and 2018 also ensured the first back-to-back victories since 2010 and 2011.

The DHS 1st XV was unbeaten at the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival, winning their games against Selborne College, Queens College and Dale College.

This was the first time since 1995 that a DHS 1st XV were unbeaten at an Easter Rugby Festival, and only the second DHS 1st XV to do so. They 2018 side were also the first DHS 1st XV to beat Selborne since 1996.

The boys of School, in their Old Gold and Oxford Blue colours… a mighty long way since modest beginnings with 7 boys in 2 classrooms in Smith Street back in 1866.

Spha Ngcobo the quicksilver as Maritzburg College shine on Goldstones

The Red Black and White’s Spha Ngcobo provided the magic touch as Maritzburg College first XV outplayed a game St Charles College 45-7 in front of a packed Goldstones crowd that showed its appreciation at being allowed to attend in numbers for the first time in 30 months.

A good few thousand spectators were treated to the quick thinking, ingenuity and innate ability of the electric-heeled fullback Ngcobo to spot an opportunity and spark something out of nothing (or, at best, a half-chance) from anywhere inside the white lines on the lush green fields of Maritzburg College’s  home of rugby.

Justin Waldman Sports Photography feature photo caption: Outstanding Maritzburg College fullback Spah Ngcobo’s delight in spashdown over the tryline whitewash versus St Charles on Goldstones. 
*You can contact this superb photographer and check out his website for a host of stunning images at

Couple this with a dominant, efficient pack of forwards, the consistency and game management of scrumhalf and captain AJ Knoetze. The direct power of big centres Liam Prinsloo and Litelihle Bester – whose ability to punch holes through the midfield and offload (if needs be) is another major feature of the Maritzburg College makeup.

Unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from being there but – thanks to the SuperSport Schools feed – picked up on the action at a later stage. It was a match permeated with unforced errors but that is understandable considering the relative zero matches over the Covid period. In the ensuing weeks we are likely to see fewer soft mistakes and more constructive, coherent rugby that doesn’t encourage the referee’s whistle too often.

See link below for the SuperSport Schools recording of the action at Maritzburg College, the first XV match is from 6:40 onward.–1pg



The Maritzburg College lineouts didn’t always work out but this time it’s clean ball for lock forward Kuhle Mthimkhulu. Justin Waldman Sports Photography


What hasn’t changed is the passion and endeavour in playing for your school and your schoolmates. The spectators on Goldstones, too, have certainly retained their enthusiasm over the lean 30 months of inaction.

Check this 29-second @Maritzcollege tweet of the RBW boys on Basher Ridge.

The good 3 thousand-plus spectators embraced Saturday’s bumper programme of 24 Red Black and White matches against the against Saints (11 matches) and their fellow Derby Day PMB schools Voortrekker (5 matches), Linpark (3) and from a little further afield, Howick (4) and Westville (1).

In terms of outcomes it was a day of note for the home school as 19 matches were won in the “like vs like” (A team vs A team, B team vs B team etc) fixtures with 5 losses in the “stagger” matches (College 6th team vs Howick 1sts etc).

The Maritzburg College age-group A teams enjoyed a trio of convincing win over their Saints counterparts; the Red Black White (RBW) U16A trumping 75-7, the U15As 33-0 and the U14As 56-14.

Maritzburg College first XV match report by head coach Tim Orchard:


The multifaceted Maritzburg College first XV head coach Tim Orchard.


Over to Tim:
“On Saturday Maritzburg College played host to St Charles for the first home game of the season in front of a packed crowd on Goldstones.”

Tim says Saturday was an auspicious occasion as it marked the first time in two years since the Maritzburg College 1st XV last ran out in front of a jam-packed Goldstones crowd. The Red Black and White’s skipper and scrumhalf AJ Knoetze had the singular honour of breaking that long drought.

“The match started off in a relatively sedentary manner as both sides sought to feel each other out in the first quarter of the match,” says Tim. “Litelihle Bester provided the spark that the match needed when he executed a move off the training paddock to score a relatively easy try, with the conversion coming from AJ Knoetze to give College the lead 7-0.


Maritzburg College’s powerful centre Litelihle Bester is over for 1 of his 3 Goldstones tries on Saturday. Justin Waldman Sports Photography


“College began to find some rhythm on attack and after waves of pressure, Knoetze kicked over a penalty to lengthen the lead to 10-0.

“St Charles began to find some purchase on attack and made a rare entry into the College 22-metre area, but a spilt pass allowed Spha Ngcobo to showcase what he can do in broken play.  With some sublime footwork and electric acceleration, he raced away to score an awe-inspiring individual try. The resulting conversion was calmly knocked over by Knoetze which took the score to 17-0.

“Further College attacks were thwarted by the final pass going astray and the score remained the same until the referee brought an end to the half.


Maritzburg College captain and scrumhalf AJ Knoetze, who scored a faultless 15 points with the boot and adds even more value during game time, is worth so much to the team. Justin Waldman Sports Photography


“The second half also started very slowly with numerous unforced errors from both sides preventing any real momentum. College slowly began to exert their dominance at lineout time, with a series of powerful lineout drives allowing the team to work its way deep into the St Charles half.

“From the resulting breakdown after a powerful carry from Liam Prinsloo, Litelihle Bester again walked over the tryline for a well-deserved try. The conversion lengthened College’s lead to 24 -0. Shortly afterwards Kuhann van den Berg finished off a well worked backline move to score in the lefthand corner, again duly converted to make the score 31-0.


The sheer exhilaration of touching down for a try on Goldstones is reflected by Maritzburg College left wing Kuhann van den Berg. Justin Waldman Sports Photography


“The game began to open up, but College were let down by numerous unforced errors when on the attack as they now camped in the St Charles half. From a scrum on the right-hand side of the St Charles half, Lithelihle Bester made a trademark break, through the midfield to score his third try of the match. The score stood at 38-0 after the conversion was slotted by Knoetze.

“With some slick interplay in broken play, Spha Ngcobo finished off a well worked team try to put the score at 45-0 after Knoetze once again kicked the conversion.

“St Charles did not give up and scored a consolation try right at the death, making the score 45-7 at the final whistle.”

Thanks Tim, much appreciated.


Front-row units like few things more than ball in hand and a bit of space to run. RedBlackWhite loosehead Diego Mandela Antoniades in possession with his tighthead Peter John Brits in support. Justin Waldman Sports Photography


Summary of Saturday’s Maritzburg College scores

Team Opposition Venue Result

1st St Charles Goldstones won 45-7
2nd St Charles Goldstones won 21-10
3rd Voortrekker 1st Goldstones won 7-0
4th Linpark 1st Goldstones won 31-5
5th St Charles 3rd Goldstones won 19-12
6th Howick 1st Goldstones lost 5-8
7th St Charles 4th Lamonds lost 17-22
8th Voortrekker 2nd Lamonds lost 7-32

16A St Charles Goldstones won 75-7
16B Voortrekker A Snows won 60-0
16C Howick A Nicholsons 1 won 36-6
16D St Charles B Nicholsons 1 won 31-0
16E Westville D CANCELLED


Maritzburg College’s unselfish flyhalf Ayrton van der Linde was the perfect foil to the attacking weapons that are centres Liam Prinsloo and hat-trick hero Litelihle Bester. Justin Waldman Sports Photography


15A St Charles Snows won 33-0
15B Voortrekker A Snows won 29-5
15C Linpark A Nicholsons 1 won 43-5
15D St Charles B Nicholsons 1 won 14-5
15E Howick A Nicholsons 2 lost 0-43
15F Westville E Away (Westville) lost 0-50

14A St Charles Snows won 56-14
14B Voortrekker A Snows won 45-7
14C Linpark A Leaches won 22-10
14D St Charles B Nicholsons 2 won 38-29
14E Howick A Nicholsons 2 won 43-18
14F St Charles C Leaches won 29-20


Nothing quite like the feeling of a plan that comes together: RBW fullback Spha Ngcobo conjured up some sublime moments in front of an appreciative Goldstones crowd. Justin Waldman Sports Photography