Hilton vs Michaelhouse epics 88-90 – Hentie Martens remembers!

HENTIE Martens needs no introduction – Michaelhouse Old Boys remember as if it was yesterday THE phenomenal Hentie try for Hilton College against their old friends. The former Springbok scrumhalf deflected my questions re: The try, and referred to the contribution of his team-mates. I invite those who were there to describe it… There was no way I could get it out of one of the most down-to-earth, humble guys you’ll ever meet. Hentie won 4 from 5 of his first XV derbies with Michaelhouse. Here’s the farmer’s (reluctant) story.

Featured image: Hentie clears in his Hilton Michaelhouse maestro performance on Gilfillans 1989.

“Thanks Jono, great to be on KZN10.com and long may it continue. I was fortunate enough to play 11 times against Michaelhouse – 5 times for the Hilton1st team. One game in 1989 to be held at MHS was called off as a result of flu.

MHS boys claimed that we chickened out of course! All 11 games against MHS were played in the best of spirits and the crowds were unbelievable. Our war cries were not much to talk about, maybe as a result of there being no smartphones to video!

“The only chants we used to hear were ‘HI- LT-ON-Hilton!’ and ‘JUMP JUMP JUMP!’

“The first game in 1988 was at MHS. MHS had players Kelvin Strachan and Murray John Wilson, Hilton were pretty much the underdogs as we had no real stars but were as usual very motivated for the game.

“Murray John was my direct opposition and Natal schools scrumhalf. I wanted to make an impression.

“I can still clearly remember Nick Davies throwing me around like a piece of old dried khaki bos. Hilton won on Meadows 26-10 and one of the star players was Proteas cricketer Derek Crookes. In the return game on Gilfillan it was a hard-fought battle.

“We had one of the best flanks I know, Gary Fyvie. Gary was inspirational to the whole team throughout the season and this Hilton MHS was no different. Derek kicked 5 penalties and we won 15-10.


The Hilton College first XV Class of 1989.



“1989 saw only one Hilton MHS and that took place at Hilton. MHS had a well-balanced side and good loose forwards with Alfie Messenger, Scott Kimble and ‘The Dog’ Geppy Armstrong.

“Alfie was one of their star players and also represented Natal Schools together with Mark Armstrong who was scrumhalf.

“Hilton also boasted with 5 Natal Schools players in the likes of Jason Dent, Deon von Benecke, Russell Leahy and I. Tries only being 4 points, which saw most of the games being close. Hilton snuck in again and some would say the ref was on our side; however the late Ian Rogers was a World Cup referee. Final score 16-6.

“In 1990 it was a totally different story. We had 5 Natal schools players (Chris Bowley, Damon Thomas, Wayne Fyvie, and Hentie Martens Dave Oxenham) and MHS had Brett Davidson and Chubby Chabana, who was the MHS Captain. Who knows what happened on Meadows.

Before we wiped the you-know-what out of our eyes we had lost. The second team also lost.

“For many Hilton boys in our age group it was first loss against MHS in our school career. Gutted!!

“For the next month we were all in mourning. We could not wait to get back at MHS.

“The second game on Gilfillan we were as motivated as can be. The night before the game I snuck out of the house and went to the centre spot on Gilfillan and reflected on my years at Hilton. What an honour!

“The next day we redeemed ourselves and every 1st team boy had the game of his life. Wayne Fyvie was as usual exceptional. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and was lucky to get a couple of tries. Hilton won 25-6.

“In all three of those years the scrumhalf held a key position and in 1990 Stu Porrill needs to be mentioned as he was superb at Meadows.

I need to thank my late dad whom I am sure everyone remembers with the yellow hat and video machine at every game that I played.

“In case the memory falters I can always refer to the videos!

“It certainly was an honour and privilege to have been involved in such special rivalry between 2 great schools.”

WOW! Hentie, thank you and thank you. Sent shivers down the KZN10.com spine.

Bring on Super Saturday, 16 June 2018 on Graeme Gilfillan field at Hilton College. THE 200th MATCH!

* In 1993, 4 years after finishing his auspicious times at Hilton College (Class of 1989) Hentie Martens became the 598th Springbok.
* English Premier League club Bath RFC have had fellow KZN10-schooled players in Butch James, Peter Dixon (both Maritzburg College), Matt Stevens (Kearsney) and Hentie Martens (Hilton).


  1. Jono Cook on 14 Jun 2018 at 6:00 pm

    I gave it on good authority that Hentie scored four tries in the match. Incredible.

  2. Wayne Sharpley on 14 Jun 2018 at 10:45 am

    Excellent piece of literature Hentie. I have great memories of your farther and believe that yellow hat made it’s debut during and/or around our Pelham days… Some great players in both teams during those years.

    • Jono Cook on 14 Jun 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Those were awesome days Wayne. If only we could go back for one of those Saturdays.

  3. Jono Cook on 14 Jun 2018 at 1:17 am

    Agree 100% Mark. That Dale Benkenstein team had the Australian Oliver Harvey at flyhalf I think – a brilliant player – or was Dale at flyhalf? I will never forget that 1991 House side beating Maritzburg College on Goldstones That day I think Dale was at fullback and Ollie Harvey at flyhalf. Maybe you remember?

    Yes, I think the 23-5 win by the heavily favoured Hilton side on Meadows in May was definitely not a fair reflection. Out-and-out underdogs St Charles College showed on Old Orchards last week that Hilton can be seriously challenged by a side that takes the game to them from the first whistle – especially the running of the backs off quick-phase ball – and then maintains that consistency over the full 70 minutes.

    The final scoreline of St Charles 19 Hilton 26 and three tries apiece says it al.

  4. Patrick Lees on 13 Jun 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I was fortunate to play in 3 of those games, correctly the return 89 game called off because Hilton had flu. But the 1990 return was indeed a Hentie massacre! If I am not mistaken, Hentie scored 4 tries and Wayne Fyvie scored 1. Both went on to wear the green and gold! We did score one try by Stu Porrill, Hentie’s opposite scrum half, but Hentie happened to be off the owls at that time. Great memories, thanks Jono!

    • Jono Cook on 14 Jun 2018 at 1:25 am

      Phew! Patrick as you know from that experience, when a playmaker of Hentie’s class – a gamechanger in any contest – gets on a roll there’s almost nothing the opposition can do to stop him. Like the Jeremy Thompson second-half show described in the recent KZN10.com rugby story by Maritzburg College flyhalf Udo Goedeke, how the Red Black and White’s victory over House on Meadows in 86 turned on a classy player who ripped the opposition to shreds.

  5. Mark Holdsworth on 13 Jun 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Hentie as always, being very modest. What he failed to mention was that if my memory serves me correct, he scored 5 tries that day in the 2nd Hilton MHs on Gilfillan in 1990. The only time MHS scored was when he went off the field for strapping!!
    To this day I still think it was the most commanding game of rugby I have ever seen a school boy play. He controlled the entire game.
    Hentie, a Hilton legend and good guy.

    • Jonathan Cook on 13 Jun 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Wow, I had no idea. Thanks Mark. Considering the equally matched tradition of Hilton College first XV vs Michaelhouse – and the remarkable 12-11 average points difference (in Michaelhouse’s favour I must ad lol ) over 199 matches spanning 115 years, the Hentie Five I’d put a hefty wa#^r on as the best ever individual performance. I’d love to know if other viewers of this story can think of any others to come close. A magical memory of a great achievement that is.
      Thanks again Mark.
      Is Nick your son?
      I recall clearly reporting on Maritzburg Varsity matches Nick played in. We had a brief chat on one occasion.

      • Mark Holdsworth on 13 Jun 2018 at 8:57 pm

        Hi Jono. My son is Connor, he plays hooker for the Hilton U16as.
        I had the privilege of playing for Hilton 1st team rugby in 91 and 92.
        In fact in 91 we ended MHS unbeaten season in the last game of the season at MHS.
        It was the same year Dale Benkenstein captained the team
        I am hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself in reverse this time,as the derby game has an uncanny habit of favoring the underdog.
        I thought MHS won every aspect of the match the first time around, other than the score board. I think we are in for a humdinger of a game

  6. Jono Cook on 13 Jun 2018 at 4:40 pm

    What a guy… What a great memory.

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