SACS 1stXV Season report 2013
Our 2013 1stXV captain Keagan Wheeler was a man of few words who led by example but in the huddle post our second narrow defeat to archrivals Wynberg he said something which to a large extent sums up the season: “Sport is not always about results”.
This may sound like a cop-out from another SACS captain and coach whose team have underperformed but I can assure you this is not the case. Anyone who watched this team play and particularly saw our captain’s commitment on defence would understand fully that this was definitely not the case.
Yes, we fell short of our goals for the season. Yes, we were bitterly disappointed to lose so many close games but we had a wonderful year together as players and coaches. The players always played with pride and commitment, meaning that the SACS Rugby community was definitely not let down in 2013. We played some really exciting rugby which the supporters enjoyed while the boys grew as individuals and as players and enjoyed their rugby season.
After another intensive five month pre-season under the watchful eye of Steve McIntyre the season started terribly with a draw to Strand at the WP Schools Day at Newlands in a 20 minute-a-side game. This was followed by a loss to Bellville High at the Brackenfell Sports Day and things were not looking at all good as we packed up for the St. Stithian’s Easter Festival. Our first game there was against a good Pretoria Boys’ High team. We produced a much improved performance but lost 23-10.
Desperate to get the season on track the team fronted up well against a physical Windhoek High team and we managed to hold on for a deserved 14-12 win. On the Monday we ran out easy winners against an Invitation team and we returned to Cape Town feeling a lot more positive than when we left.
Our first league game against Boland Landbou was to prove a season highlight. We beat them 26-22 at home with flyhalf Shane Fourie kicking four penalties and two conversions. This was the first win against Boland Landbou in over a decade and proved to be the only win by a Southern Suburbs team over a Boland school in 2013.
We followed that with an easy win (62-21) against Brackenfell at home and were positive going into another home game against an unsettled Paul Roos team. Paul Roos were desperate and played like men possessed but we were not helped by two early frontrow injuries. Hooker Struan Murray, who had played most of the previous season, tearing his hamstring and prop Yandisa Maqenukana losing a tooth. Struan’s hamstring injury eventually putting him out for the entire season. Paul Roos clicked into gear that day and played themselves back into form after a dismal start to their season, running out comfortable 32-nil winners.
We quickly put that disappointment behind us with a decent performance the following week out at Strand High. Having drawn with us at Newlands they fancied their chances and it took a concerted effort to prevail 21-14.
The following week produced another season highlight as we travelled down the road to Bishops and the infamous Piley Rees field which has been the burial ground for many a SACS team in the past. The team stepped up to the occasion and we produced a superb defensive performance to beat Bishops 22-5. Flank Justin Williams, lock Dean Basson and centre Richard Rodgers scoring memorable tries.
After the massive defensive effort against Bishops it was ironically our defence which let us down a week later against Rondebosch. We led 10-6 at half-time but leaked two tries soon after and we were forced to chase the game. In so doing we made silly mistakes and conceded two more tires and eventually lost the game 41-18 which was a major disappointment.
Stellenberg are improving their rugby and have good coaching structures in place, hence another potential banana-peel awaited out in Durbanville on Saturday 25 May. It was a close encounter right up until near the end when right-wing Damian Rawstorne secured the 38-23 win with a well taken try.
We were back on the N1 the following weekend for a trip to Paarl on a cold and wet winter’s morning. We let in two early tries and were always going to struggle to make up the deficit in the conditions. The boys tried manfully but the sheer size of the Boishaai pack eventually told and we lost 29-5.
The rain never abated over the next week and we hosted Wynberg in our annual FNB Classic Clash in a compete mud-bath. Wynberg played the conditions better and were deserved 15-7 winners on the day in a forgettable contest.
The June/July holidays saw us attending the bi-annual Cape School’s Week Festival at Paarl Gim. As was the original purpose of the event; the week saw us pitted against three of our traditional rivals from the Eastern Cape: Selborne College, Queens College and Grey High. With a few key players out injured it was always going to be a difficult week and although we acquitted ourselves well we agonisingly lost all three games by two points. Once again the team’s commitment and determination could never be questioned and but for a kick here and a decision there we could easily have come home with two wins and a draw. The team’s performance in the final game against Grey High at 8am on the final day was particularly pleasing.
We returned to training after two weeks off with six games left to play. The second day back at school we hosted Kings College (Wimbledon) from the UK and the boy’s produced a pleasing display of running rugby to win 57-17. Our ball retention was particularly good after such a long time off.
Four days later we were to be on the receiving end of a similar scoreline as the No.1 team in South Africa in 2013, Paarl Gimnasium, rolled into town. We made some defensive lapses that resulted in tries but we were simply outgunned by a special team on the day.
Tygerberg High were next on the agenda. Tygerberg have had a couple of good teams over the last few years and have taken many an unexpected scalp so they are never to be taken lightly. Fortunately we never let them settle and were able to subdue them quite easily on their home patch, winning 38-5.
With our three local rivals left we set out our stall to win the final three games. We started off with another win over Bishops (21-16). We didn’t play as well as we hoped on the day but any win in a local derby is to be cherished, especially against Bishops and especially when it makes it five wins in a row against them.
Rondebosch at home was a particular disappointment. Despite conceding far too many penalties we still had numerous opportunities (including four penalty kicks at poles) to win a match we eventually lost 18-17.
The final game of the season against Wynberg played out along the same lines. Our discipline was marginally better and we didn’t miss as many kicks at poles but once again the opportunities were there for us to win.
One score behind going into the final quarter we did everything but score the try required to draw level and possibly win the game. Our outstanding fullback Sebastian Roodt made two clean linebreaks, we had two set pieces within five metres of the Wynberg line and got within millimetres scoring but it wasn’t to be and we lost 17-12. With fourteen Matrics in the team it was a bitter disappointment for all concerned when the final whistle blew.
Lots of narrow misses but the boys never gave up and always gave of their best. Keagan Wheeler was an inspirational leader and played every match of the season. He played two seasons for the 1stXV in three different positions and always acquitted himself well. He was ably assisted in the backs by Richard Rodgers another veteran of two full seasons in the 1stXV at outside centre. A strong defender who marshalled the wide channels excellently he developed into an attacking force this season.
Sebastian Roodt was one of the fairytale stories of the season who came from the fourth team in Grade 11 to be a star performer in the 1stXV in Matric. He was exciting to watch every time he touched the ball and had an outstanding season, regularly playing through injuries, and ending up as our top try-scorer. Shane Fourie played every game of the season at flyhalf and did exactly what we asked of him. He executed our game plan for us and practiced tirelessly before and during the season on his kicking.
Matthew Wadling was another player who came from the fourths and worked his way into the team through sheer guts and determination in pre-season. He desperately wanted a 1stXV spot and worked hard to get it. Once he had it he was never going to give it up and his commitment to the cause, particularly in defence, could never be questioned. The fast and agile Damian Rawstorne made the right-wing spot his own and with another season ahead of him we are hoping for big things from him.
Michael Henning played the first half of the season for us at scrumhalf and did superbly. He executed the basics well, was courageous in defence and under the high ball. Sadly he broke his arm at Cape Schools Week and missed the second half of the season but fortunately he is back next year.
Up front special mention must be made of Yandisa Maqenukana who played in 56 games over three years for the 1stXV and in three different positions. Yandi was our vice-captain and over all that time never lost his energy and enthusiasm. He was loyal servant and a senior player and will long be remembered for his contribution to the emergence of SACS Rugby again as a consistent force.
Loosehead prop Joel MacQuene and lock/flank Dean Basson both played two years in the forwards. They were hard working players who would have made any 1stXV in the province. Joel made the WP Academy team and out-scrummed often bigger opponents all season. Dean’s ball-carrying was simply unbelievable. With his quick side-step he easily beat defenders and if he didn’t step them he simply ran over them. Both players were huge for us in 2013!
Devon Barnard came into the team at the end of the 2012 season and was a fixture in the team at No.8 this year. Blessed with good feet, speed off the mark and good running lines he was superb off the base of scrums and on the counter-attack. Justin Joubert was a revelation at lock and ran our lineout superbly. His astute leadership in this important area of the game proved vital as did his ability to take charge of our kick-off receipts.
Travis Raa stepped in at hooker when Struan Murray got injured. He grew as a player and a person as the season progressed and improved his physicality so much so that he was putting in big hits and very effective ball-carries later on in the season.
Our two rowers in the 1stXV, James Ambler-Smith (flank) and Robert Mylrea (lock), added huge value to the pack over the season. James as a strong ball-carrier and effective defender and Robbie as a classic tight-lock who hit lots of rucks, scrummed, mauled and carried well. James’ tenacity will be missed but fortunately Robbie is back next year.
Another loyal servant of the SACS 1stXV is Wesley Futter who has made regular appearances on both sides of the frontrow over the past three seasons. Wes is unbelievably committed to rugby and to SACS and has always given of his best at practices and in matches. Wesley does the basics well and has developed as a defender and ball-carrier.
Jason Labuschagne played wing in 2012 and flank at the start of the 2013 season, eventually finishing the season off filling in at inside-centre for us. He is a fast, physical player who can hopefully settle into his preferred position after school and develop his rugby from there.
Andrew Douglas and Justin Williams both had spells in the team at loose-forward and contributed well whenever they got a chance. Andrew was a true SACS-man who was desperate to wear the 1stXV jersey and do his school proud. Justin is a tall athletic forward who is going to be a key member of the 2014 pack.
I have mentioned hooker Struan Murray already who had his season cut short by a hamstring injury. Another player who missed out on rugby in his Matric year was burly lock Brentyn Delport who broke his jaw early in the second game at the St. Stithians Festival. He would have made a huge contribution had he been fit and we wish him well with his future rugby career.
The season had many close calls but was a positive experience for all involved. The win/loss ratio is disappointing and we ended one Premier League win short but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
Thanks must to firstly go to Nick Maurer who did much more than merely coach the team with me. His efforts cannot be put into words and SACS is lucky to have him driving rugby development within the school and the 1stXV. Dylan Rodgers assisted with the forwards and brought a great deal of expertise and a good vibe which will be sorely missed when he leaves us to go work and play in Hong Kong. Rowan Belchers did some valuable mental preparation with the team, particularly in pre-season and before the last three games. Our physio, old boy Adam Emery, had his work cut out this year and by the end of the season was strapping for two hours before games. He deserves a massive word of thanks for all his time and effort often in adverse conditions.
Another special word of thanks must go to our long serving manager and mentor Simon Perkin who always kept us on our toes like any good manager should. Simon has worked with me for four seasons and has assisted me immensely with growing into the role of 1stXV coach as well as doing his many administrative tasks.
Thanks must also go the Matthew Field who played linesman for the team all season, the Grade 8 and 9 water-boys, who like our trusted SACS First Aiders, were at every game come rain or shine.
A final word thanks to Mr. Ball and the SACS Percy Montgomery Foundation for their unwavering support as well as to the parents who fetched and carried and paid and supported their boys and us coaches wherever we practised or played. We cannot thank you enough!
SACS 1ST XV – 2013 STATISTICS
P22 W10 L12 PF454 PA411
GAMES STARTED: [22 PLAYED]
22 – S FOURIE, J MacQUENE, S ROODT, M WADLING,
K WHEELER [CAPTAIN] 21 – J JOUBERT, Y MAQENUKANA [VICE-CAPTAIN] 20 – D RAWSTORNE
16 – D BARNARD, D BASSON
15 – M HENNING, T RAA, R RODGERS
13 – W FUTTER, J LABUSCHAGNE
11 – J AMBLER-SMITH
10 – R MYLREA
9 – A DOUGLAS
8 – J WILLIAMS
7 – A DUCKITT, S MURRAY
BELLVILLE HIGH SCHOOL – LOST – 0 – 15
PRETORIA BOYS’ HIGH – LOST – 10 – 23
WINDHOEK HIGH SCHOOL – WON – 14 – 12
INVITATION XV – WON – 49 – 0
BOLAND LANDBOU – WON – 26 – 22
BRACKENFELL – WON – 62 – 12
PAUL ROOS – LOST – 0 – 32
STRAND – WON – 21 – 14
BISHOPS – WON – 22 – 5
RONDEBOSCH – LOST – 18 – 41
STELLENBERG – WON – 38 – 23
PAARL BOYS’ HIGH – LOST – 5 – 29
WYNBERG – LOST – 7 – 15
SELBORNE COLLEGE – LOST – 9 – 11
QUEENS COLLEGE – LOST – 17 – 19
GREY(P.E.) – LOST – 8 – 10
KING’S COLLEGHE (UK) – WON – 57 – 17
PAARL GYM – LOST – 3 – 55
TYGERBERG – WON – 38 – 5
BISHOPS – WON – 21 – 16
RONDEBOSCH – LOST – 17 – 18
WYNBERG – LOST – 12 – 17
NOTE: YANDISA MAQENUKANA FINISHED WITH 56 CAPS FOR THE 1ST XV
POINTS FOR: 454 (59 TRIES/33 CONVERSIONS/31 PENALTIES)
169 – S FOURIE: 2 TRIES, 33 CONVERSIONS, 31 PENALTIES
40 – S ROODT: 8 TRIES
35 – K WHEELER: 7 TRIES
30 – R RODGERS: 6 TRIES
25 – D BARNARD: 5 TRIES
20 – M WADLING: 4 TRIES