The bogeyman boogie: Warrick Gelant tormenting Boishaai (Photo: Gavin Falck)
Their quarterly out-weekend gives the "country" schools some breathing space, but not Paarl Gym, who have the unenviable task of traveling up to George to face mighty Outeniqua on Saturday 27 April.2013 in what will arguably be their toughest assignment of the entire season.
Good planning – read: a danger-free fixture list – have meant that the Lötter-Weber contingent have only had to play one game – Saturday’s 55-3 romp against Tygerberg last Saturday – since Easter.
This sheltered start presents its positives and its negatives.
In their favour is that the players will be both well rested and injury-free plus the intricately-planned patterns and combinations will be as ready as they can ever be prior to the acid test.
However, this inertia is also their biggest drawback: a valuable game-time. It’s one thing to theorise about something, but, until you put it into practice, you can’t really be sure it will work. The Quaggas are hardly the opponents against whom you want to test things out. It’s like learning to surf in a paddle-pool and then finding out you have to do your practical at Dungeons.
Their low-key build-up has effectively put all Gym’s eggs in this single basket - there really is that much at stake: if they don’t win this one. Never mind that they will be highly unlikely to reach the number 1 position nationally this season, no matter how many weeks’ rest they manage to fit in later on., but the psychological toll will be immense.
So, can the Paarl side dethrone the Quaggas ?
They are certainly better equipped to do so than their Boishaai neighbours were.
Up front JD Schickerling’s height will go a long way towards nullifying the Eduard Zandberg threat and the contest at no 8 between Rikus Bothma and the hosts’ Dian Koen will be worth watching.
Flanks Jacques Vermeulen and Lohandré Luus fill out the Gim loose trio more than adequately and their scrabble for possession in the loose with Geor Malan and Lian van Schalkwyk could play a similarly crucial role.
If the scales are going to tip in Outeniqua’s favour, it will more than likely be at the base of the scrum where the George unit has a peerless combination in Remu Malan and Dewald Human. Brendon Nell does not have anything like the same amount of experience as Malan and Wyatt Murphy is going to need plenty of help in shutting down the jack-in-the-box that is Human, whose influence on play, be it in putting his forwards on the front foot or sending his backline away, cannot be underestimated.
Although Gym centres Wayno Visagie and Ryan Oosthuizen have been effective so far this season, they have yet to be tested to the extent that they will be on Saturday by the hosts’ major attacking playmaker, Warrick Gelant.
Give Quagga left-wing Duhan van der Merwe half an inch and he will take ten metres, such is his explosive pace. Plus his leaning-forward running style means he batters many opponents aside. Whoever has to mark hium – Grant Hermanus or Dylon Fairbridge – will have to get in low, hard and early…or else.
Luckily for rugby-lovers, the game will be broadcast live on television – so the people of Noorder Paarl can just turn off the goggle-box if the pain becomes too much to bear !
There are still a few major attractions locally.
The visit of Paul Roos to SACS could well be a whole lot closer than one might usually expect.
Forget about how many Craven Week triallists each side has, these two teams go into this clash more evenly-matched form-wise than they have been for many years.
The Young Ikeys’ expansive game has seen them record cracking back-to-back victories over Boland Landbou and Brackenfell, ensuring that their morale is high.
The Young Maties’ fortunes have been far less auspicious.
A fortnight back they inexplicably decided, at 15-0 up, to take on Bishops at the latter’s game, ending up with a 22-22 draw. Then they found out the value of a reliable kicker the hard way when they let as many as twenty points go abegging on their slippery way to an 18-23 defeat against Grey High in the Windy – and extremely Rainy – City last weekend.
Can SACS maintain their composure in this traditional humdinger ? The answer to that question – plus flyhalf Shane Fourie’s accurate tee-form – may well determine the winners.
The annual interschools meeting between Grey High and Wynberg takes place in Cape Town this weekend. Like the Grey-Paul Roos meeting seven days ago, this is about a great deal more than one rugby match. Many would concede victory in all the other contests for a win in the 1st XV game, such is its flagship status.
By all accounts, Grey are still not quite the finished article, but neither are Wynberg.
A fascinating article on the SchoolBoy Rugby website outlines how Grey managed to play their Under 16 wunderkind flyhalf, Curwin Bosch, against the Maroon Platoon on a quite above-board technical point concerning the ages of the players involved in the game. Wynberg, with eleven Grade 11s in their starting XV, will have the pleasure of facing him, too !
There is no particular weakness in the Hawthornden Hornets’ armour, their most potent threat being the clinical efficiency with which they distribute the ball. They boast two shrewd heads in Nicholas Scott at scrumhalf and Siya Alam at no. 10, and that’s before you come to the intelligent, graceful running of Jarred Sage, the captain, outside them.
It would be a dream come true for the local lads if they could notch up a second consecutive win in this fixture on Saturday, but, looking at the bigger picture, the keen competitive atmosphere that will prevail when these two groups of impeccably-mannered young gentlemen meet in a broad spectrum of codes is bound to leave everyone with plenty of happy memories, whatever the outcome of the final act.
A particularly intense northern suburbs match can be expected when Bellville visit Tyger territory. Both sides lost by very different margins last time out and one suspects that the hosts are feeling decidely vulnerable.
The teams’ next assignments – the Tygers host Rondebosch; Bellville, Bishops – are strong indicators of the both schools’ intentions to improve the standard of their rugby by playing daunting opposition. It will also mean the coaches will be determined to sort out potential problems well in advance.
That said, Johan Joubert’s lads are at the forefront of a welcome resurgence taking place at the visiting school. Smart money’s on an away win.
All this and there’s still Wildeklawer to look forward to next week !
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