SACS Rugby Story 1996 – 2013
This article was written in 2014 …..
1st XV coach Nick Maurer casts his eye over SACS’s Premier League successes from 1996 when he captained the 1st XV to2013. Note: Premier League includes Paul Roos, Paarl Boys High, Paarl Gym, Boland Landbou, SACS, Bishops, Rondebosch and Wynberg.
The SACS rugby journey from 1996 to 2013 can best be described as a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, a period of incredible highs and also some rather sombre lows. Through it all, however, SACS men have worn the jersey with pride and shown huge commitment against sometimes incredible odds.
Coming off the back of a poor 1995 season not much was expected of the 1st XV of 1996. But through hard work, a great team spirit and committed defence they managed to surprise friend and foe winning 70% of their games and beating the likes of Paarl Gym and Paarl Boys High along the way. The ‘gees’ that was generated by the team permeated throughout the school and those involved will look back on this time with very fond memories. The season came to a close with home victories over Bishops and Wynberg which brought the curtain down on a fine season. A fitting send off to a dedicated bunch of guys.
For the remainder of the 90’s, SACS struggled against its Premier League rivals recording a solitary win against Wynberg in 1997 and a suprise away win against Boland Landbou in 1998. 1st XV coach, Matt Guiney remembers the closing stages of that match. ‘Our flyhalf and goal kicker had gone down injured during the game and talismanic captain and number 8, Leigh Parry decided to take control of the situation. With time up on the clock and 2 points down, SACS were awarded a penalty on the halfway line. Parry stepped up to take the kick himself and slotted it to record a nerve racking victory’. Another highlight of the 1998 season was a SACS victory at the Villager 7’s for the first time in many years. WP Craven Week scrumhalf Ashieq Wise was in sublime form throughout the tournament, scoring a record number of tries, leading SACS to victory in the process.
Rian van der Westhuizen had taken over the coaching reigns in 1999 and after a forgettable first year in charge began to mould his 2000 – 2002 teams into very competitive and successful outfits that the school could once again be proud of. The 2000 season saw the emergence of Ross Skeate (currently playing for Agen in the French Top 14), a very talented lock who would represent both WP at Craven Week and SA Schools during the season. The team beat Rondebosch (h) and finally ended the Piley Rees ‘hoodoo’ by beating Bishops away for the first time in a number of years. That this team did not record a win against the big four Boland schools was tough to take as they drew with Paul Roos (a) 15 all and narrowly lost to Paarl Gym (h) after leading for most of the match. Rian van der Westhuizen remembers the Paul Roos encounter. ‘It was a great match with SACS throwing everything at Paul Roos on attack in the final 10 minutes. We appeared to score in the last minute but the try was not awarded so the match was drawn’.
The 2001 team, inspired by scrumhalf Paul Delport (of Blitzbokke fame) went on to achieve victories against Rondebosch (h), Bishops (h) and Wynberg (a) with another excruciating loss to Boland powerhouse Paarl Boys High 87 away from home. This year was also to see one of the most remarkable turnarounds in SACS rugby history. SACS took on Wynberg at home in the 2nd term with 8 regular players out through injury or illness. They lost 708.
In the return fixture, SACS were back at full strength and hurting from the embarrassing defeat suffered earlier in the year, managed to reverse the result winning 1210 at Wynberg.
Further proving that nothing is impossible in rugby if you BELIEVE! Delport capped a fine season by being selected for WP Craven Week and SA Schools and much was expected of him in his matric year in 2002.
2002 was another strong year group who achieved wins against Rondebosch (h), Wynberg (h) and another epic win against Boland Landbou at ‘The Farm’ to emulate the heroics of 1998. With the talents of Paul Delport and Ismaeel
Dollie this team will probably look back on their season with the words ‘if only’ etched in the minds. Narrow losses to Bishops both home and away were made worse by a disappointing performance against Rondebosch on ‘Rugby A’ and an agonizing draw to Wynberg 27 all in an exciting encounter to finish the season. The two point loss to Paarl Boys High with a very controversial penalty being awarded to the men from Boland, being a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Delport was again selected for Craven Week and had the honour of captaining SA Schools in 2002. Hard working lock, Grant Benzie, was another SACS player to represent WP at Craven Week that year.
2003-2005 were disappointing years for SACS rugby with only sporadic wins against our local rivals and some heavy defeats against the Boland Schools. Under a new coaching staff, the highlight of the period was holding on for a gutsy and well deserved victory over Bishops at home in 2004. There were also two good victories at home against Rondebosch and one away against Wynberg over the 3 year period. From the crop of players during this era, Kyle Brown was the one that progressed furthest, currently captain and star player of the Blitzbokke 7’s team. Kevin Dolley was selected as captain of the WP Academy team in 2005 with Khotso Micha represented WP at Craven Week. Another feather in the cap for SACS rugby was South Africa winning the U19 World Cup in France in 2003. Paul Delport captained the side from scrumhalf and Ismaeel Dollie played flyhalf.
Dollie kicked the winning drop goal to win the final and secure the title for the young Boks. In 2005, Delport again captained a victorious U21 Bok team in the World Cup in Argentina.
2006 saw something of a rebirth of SACS rugby with a hard earned double against Rondebosch and a pulsating victory over Paarl Boys High in the final few minutes on ‘Memorial A’. It was almost 10 years to the day since the last triumph over Boishaai and will live long in the memory of all those SACS supporters that attended this tremendous match. The 2006 revival unfortunately coincided with the emergence of an outstanding group of Bishops players, spearheaded by Nick Koster and buoyed by strong post matrics that would demolish most opponents during the season. A standout performer for SACS was Liam Slatem who would go on after school to earn provincial colours and become a valuable member of UCT’s Varsity Cup team in recent years. Dean Holland was a deadly finisher on the wing.
Rian van der Westhuizen now back at the helm and in his 2nd year in charge produced a strong and physical outfit in 2007. Captained by Zack Beukman and consisting of players of the calibre of Rob Herring (now playing for Ulster in Ireland), the team went on to record outstanding doubles over Rondebosch and Wynberg and achieve a massive win against Paul Roos in front of their home fans in Newlands. Another notable result was the 22 all draw on the Piley Rees against another very strong Bishops team. A win was there for the taking with SACS ‘knocking on’ with an open tryline in the final minutes. The boys finished off a successful season by winning the Villager 7’s for the first time since 1998. Thabiet Jakoet and Richard Boliter were selected for WP Academy in a year where maybe a few other SACS players were unlucky to miss out on Provincial selection.
Much was expected of the team under Chad Moolman in 2008 but they unfortunately underachieved for a number of reasons. They nevertheless recorded a season double over Wynberg which has become very difficult to do in recent times. 2009 and 2010 were disappointing years for SACS rugby with results proving that we had fallen behind our traditional rivals and needed to act urgently to reverse the worrying trend. The standout performer during this period was Godfrey Tundube who was selected for the WP Academy team in 2009.
A new era of SACS rugby began when Graeme Wepener and Nick Maurer took over the 1st XV in 2011. Lead by head of rugby, Barry van Selm and with the aid of the newly created Percy Montgomery Foundation, outstanding structures were put in place from the outset and immediate progress was made in our endeavour to return SACS rugby to it’s rightful place as a competitive force in the Premier League.
Initial highlights were an unbeaten Cape Schools Week in King William’s Town (beating Grey PE, Dale College and Muir College) and season defining victories against Bishops (h) and Wynberg (h) in 2011. The Bishops result in particular, was a watershed moment for SACS rugby. SACS had lost to a strong Bishops team on the Piley Rees 68-27 earlier in the season and faced an uphill battle to turn things around in the 3rd term. Down 13-0 at halftime, the boys sprung into action with a monumental comeback that saw wing Ryan Johnson scoring in the final passage of play to win the game 2013. For every SACS supporter that attended, it was a truly memorable occasion and one that the SACS rugby community will remember fondly for many years to come.
In 2012, a SACS team full of potential, achieved season doubles over both Rondebosch and Bishops including a record score on the Piley Rees. They also beat Selborne College and were unbeaten against some of the finest rugby schools in Zimbabwe on tour in the July holidays. Although very competitive against the four Boland schools, they will look back with some regret that they didn’t manage to claim a big scalp during the season. Both Luke van der Smit and Leighton van Wyk earned places in the WP Academy team. Luke and flyhalf Chris Smith are now at the WP Rugby Institute and Leighton is at the Bulls. We will follow their rugby careers with interest.
The SACS ‘Warriors’ of 2013 represented their school with pride and commitment. While results didn’t always go in their favour, the team played some highly entertaining rugby and left nothing out on the field, week in and week out. Led by inspirational captain, Keagan Wheeler, the team started the season with a successful tour to the St Stithians Easter Festival in Johannesburg and followed that up with a significant victory against Boland Landbou (h) as well as achieving deserved victories over Bishops both home and away (5th win against Bishops in a row) to continue the positive momentum. Joel Macquene was awarded WP Academy colours for his superb performances during 2012 and 2013.
The next chapter of the SACS rugby story is still to be written. I trust the boys will rise to the occasion in the years to come…