Posted by on 15 August 2013 | 0 Comments

Marlow of Cradock (in white, pictured playing Dr EG Jansen at the 2013 Quagga Day)
face Outeniqua for a place in the Burger Trophy Large Schools final
(photo: Euvard Louw)

Two weeks ago, for the first time ever, it was deemed necessary to remove an article from this website. In it the potential excitement the Burger Trophy play-offs and finals seemed set to generate was praised.

Now, in a mere fourteen days, schoolboy rugby followers have seen a return to the farcical situation that arose several years ago.

Although my memory has desperately struggled to suppress the fiasco, I do recall Piketberg qualifying as the Boland Medium School finalists, only for them to have to withdraw when they were finally informed of the date for the Finals because it clashed with their Matric Dance.

The beaten finalists also withdrew and Schoonspruit were roped in as Boland’s representatives, this after their not even having taken part in the (laughable) qualification process !

Fast-forward to 2013.

The process seems reasonably organized in the Eastern Province and South Western Districts, where it would appear that the winner of the match between Langenhoven High, who beat George High 29-10 on Tuesday 13 August, and Uniondale on Saturday 17 August in Oudtshoorn will be the Eagles’ Small Schools qualifiers.

Well, that’s what Langenhoven think, although another website states that they have already made it to the regional final against EP’s Nzondelelo.

The WP representatives are nominated by a well-qualified person, who does a pretty good job, taking all the statistics into account. Definitely a good enough job for the organizers to be able to rely on it.

Right ?  Wrong. The 2013 WP Medium Schools nominees were declared to be Hottentots Holland, whereupon it didn’t take very long for Milnerton to point out that they had beaten HHH 16-15 in their home match in mid-April.

Despite yours truly informing Millies that that result, apart from a 27-27 draw against Hermanus, was the only blot on a very impressive HHH copybook and any appeals were unlikely to succeed - getting the organizers to make up their minds once in a calendar year being difficult enough, forget about twice -  the school decided to approach them nonetheless.

A comb was needed to restore my eyebrows to their proper position when the various authorities actually agreed with Milnerton and gave them the Somerset West side's berth !

Off to the Boland, whose blindfold and pencil method of nominating sides is marginally more sophisticated. They normally ask me who’s featuring prominently and then promptly ignore the answer.

In the Small Schools it was a no-brainer that perennial overperformers such as Dirkie Uys should be included. Everything pointed to it.

Except the race factor. It just so happens that none of the schools catering primarily to learners from previously disadvantaged communities have enjoyed anything like a successful overall run in 2013. In fact, none of them ever do, but that’s not relevant here, except insofar as several invariably end up in the nominations.

The “nominations” were – and I got them on Friday 2 August, less than six days before the play-offs and before the competition organizer even bothered to find out – were Ashton Secondary, Ceres Secondary (whom I had never even heard of before that day) and Albert Myburgh. The winner of a match between the last two would play Ashton, whose opposition had withdrawn.

Well, by Wednesday 7 August, Emil Weder had unwithdrawn/been added/been reinstated/whatever. As it turned out, they lost to Ashton 0-3, who went on to beat Albert Myburgh, who had dispatched with Ceres 21-17, 20-8 on Tuesday 13 August at HTS Drostdy.

This is serious theatre compared to the slapstick in the Boland Medium Schools division.

The Bolanners did, to their credit, at least initially include Piketberg, Hermanus and Montagu from the statistical-based suggestions offered. The semi-finals, it was declared, would see Schoonspruit face Montagu and Piketberg take on Hermanus at Trappespark on 7 August.

When informed of this for the first time in the half-hour following my having heard the “draw”, both Piketberg and Hermanus immediately indicated that they would be withdrawing as they had prior, long-standing commitments for Wednesday 8 August with Vredenburg and Strand respectively.

Don’t forget these play-offs had, in a stunning move that must have required extensive thought, been scheduled for midweek in a week just before the end of the season and, more importantly, that ended in a long weekend.

In other words, at a time when the majority of schools were either catching up games postponed earlier in the season or playing ones that had been deliberately scheduled for then to make up for the Saturday about to be lost when the schools did their 2013 planning late last year.

But, wait, there’s more ! Before Hermanus could withdraw, Montagu, who really deserved the chance, found that they had suddenly been removed from the competition, apparently on the spurious grounds that they had lost to Charlie Hofmeyr up in Ceres the previous Saturday.

Heaven only knows what that had to do with matters, considering the knock-out stages only start with the provincial semi-finals !

So Tuesday 13 August found Hermanus up against Schoonspruit, who, by their high standards, have had a pretty shoddy season and who come from a school of over 1000 pupils, which looks suspiciously Large to my sardonic eye !

The latest is that Hermanus edged past Schoonspruit 16-15 at HTS Drostdy on Tuesday 13August.

The local regional finals, Hermanus vs Milnerton and Ashton Secondary vs Excelsior, will take place at Hermanus High School on Tuesday 20 August (hopefully the one in 2013).

If you don’t believe the information regarding the form of the schools involved, take a look at the Team Stats in the Stats section !

Oops, and needless to say, my invitation to the official opening of the competition was miraculously withdrawn within an hour of the original article’s removal !

And thus this farcical competition takes its place alongside death and taxes as the only things of which you can be sure.

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