Season Preview: Northern Region

*Northern Region schools are made up of schools from the Lions, Bulls, Falcons, Leopards, Pumas and Limpopo catchment areas.

AFFIES

At the start of last decade it looked like Affies were going to be giving Grey College a run for their money in terms of the school rugby dynamic in South Africa. Things seemed to have faded during the course of the decade with Paarl Boys and Grey College proving dominant.

With a new director of rugby at the helm we are likely to see Affies step up recruitment efforts and perhaps there is a new era in rugby for the school.

The class of 2020 will be stronger certainly than the previous years team but likely will not challenge for the mantle of national champions. A fairly strong Grade 11 group ensures adequate depth. The forward pack seems solid and with a  young exciting backline there may be less predictability than in previous years.

There will be high expectations for Affies due to it being their centenary year but will that jolt the boys into action or will the pressure be too much?

Players to watch:

Two solid forwards who will be pushing hard for SA Schools selection and who impressed last year are lock Reinard Ludwig and loose-forward Willie Potgieter.

Young Gun:

Scrum-Half Leighton Horn looks really exciting, has a great vision and reading of the game and could be the spark that ignites the Affies backline.

NGR Prediction:

They will almost certainly be in the Top 10 this year but will push very hard for a Top 5 finish.

EG JANSEN

2019 was certainly not the best season for EG Jansen but we expect 2020 to be a far better season for the boys from Boksburg.

EG Jansen are always a physically imposing team and the class of 2020 should be no different. Ranked just outside the Top 10 as Under 16’s the team will be hoping to crack the Top 10 this year. There will be concerns however of depth as their Grade 11 support base does not look to be the strongest.

Players to watch:

Werner Groenweld the loose-forward looks to be a talented player and Jason Edwards is a points machine in the making.

Young Gun:

Zander Zaayman who is a loose-forward will be great to watch.

NGR Prediction:

A hard push for a Top 10 finish but expect them to fall just outside.

GARSFONTEIN

From a school nobody ever heard about to being one of the premier rugby teams in the country. The Garsfontein journey has been an interesting one to say the least.

The program shows no signs of slowing down with this years team having an extremely talented group of players. A number of these talents will certainly be knocking on the door of SA Schools selection.

They were without doubt the surprise package of last year, Strydom and Flusk will almost certainly become household names in the future.

Players to watch:

Rowan Cloete had limited game time last year due to Jurich Claasens being the first choice scrum-half but expect him to make the number 9 jersey his own this year. Another player we like is pacey centre Albertus Sadie, he should be among the leading try scorers next year. Finally a tough as nails loose-forward who takes no prisoners, Hardus Rothman. He will be a key player for the team and will lead from the front in the physical battles that will come their way.

Young Gun:

Extremely exciting and versatile utility back Dillon Oppelt looks good. He is unpredictable and young but expect the coaching team at Garsies to work hard to develop this talent.

NGR Prediction:

We expect a Top 10 finish at the very least. The only thing that could effect the team is injuries to key players, depth will be a concern as their Grade 11 class fell short of the standards set by the school last year.

HELPMEKAAR

Helpmekaar surprised friend and foe alike with their results in 2019. The draw against Paarl Boys was one for the ages, however that being said one thing that has alluded Helpies over the years is their consistency.

One has a gut feeling the same could happen with this years group judging on their results as Under 16 players. Make no mistake this years group is a talented one and should go on to achieve great results, they don’t have significant support from the Grade 11 group who were ranked outside the top 20 in their under 16 year but that group too contains a few talented players.

Players to watch:

Sebastine Watney at pivot will be raring to go, he is there abouts in terms of SA Schools selection and will have to make a hard final push to be in contention for selection. Melbirt van der Spuy is an excellent centre with a lot of natural talent, expect him to be in the headlines this year.

Young Gun:

Perhaps one of the most exciting and dynamic young talents in the country is Diego Cupido at wing.

NGR Prediction:

There are many factors at play for Helpmekaar, if their players remain injury free and their forwards can lay a solid foundation to unleash their backs there is little doubt they will be pushing toward a Top 10 finish.

JEPPE

Jeppe will likely have a very competitive outfit this year. Their rugby program looks to be developing very nicely to say the least when one looks at the younger age group results.

Jeppe seems to have made a habit of producing outstanding individual players over the past few years more than producing outstanding teams, this is likely down to the fact they play in an extremely competitive league and they compete against physically imposing Afrikaans schools.

This years crop will have to impose themselves physically against the Afrikaans boys and one has the feeling there are a few players within the group that are able to do just that. Their derbies will be fierce this year and if they can get away with few injuries we could see a great year for the Jozi boys.

Players to watch:

Mention physicality and one name springs to mind in the Jeppe team and that is their lock Justin Kalamer, he will no doubt lead the charge against opponents and his presence will be vital to unleashing their backs. Another player to keep an eye on is centre Setachaba Mokoena, he is an extremely talented player and who know, perhaps we could be seeing another Wandisile Simelane in the making?

Young Gun:

Ayanda Xungu should pair up with Mokoena as a centre partner this year, the combination could be deadly and will no doubt bring the crowds to their feet.

NGR Prediction:

They will be hoping to push hard for a Top 10 place but their lack of depth means injuries could derail their season, we expect them to be at the lower end of the Top 20 for this season but expect some exciting rugby!

KES

KES is known more as a cricket school but over the past decade they have provided us with some exciting and dynamic teams as well as some class players who have gone on to excel professionally.

We expect this year to be a tough one for KES, as Under 16’s they were not the most impressive outfit. Their Grade 11 group looks solid and we expect this to be a younger KES team looking to develop the team for an assault on the rankings come 2021.

Players to watch:

Prince Mulea is a powerful prop who should give them much needed strength in the front, Andre Goliath looks another solid player to keep your eye on.

Young Gun:

We are extremely excited to see Kelly Mpeku unleashed on the 1st XV circuit this year, he is an outstanding talent and a dynamic playmaker.

NGR Prediction:

We expect an inconsistent KES team, there will be moments of surprise where they produce results that will shock but generally speaking we expect them to lose some encounters they are expected to win. A Top 25 finish would be great for the group, but expect them to be just outside the Top 30.

MONUMENT

We are expecting a massive year for the boys from Krugersdorp, anything less than being crowned Northern champions will be seen as a massive disappointment.

There is so much quality in this team it is scary, a 5th place finish as Under 16’s shows how talented this group is and there is no doubt they will be one of the premier teams in the country this year.

The only issue Monnas have and always have had is that their seasons are extremely long, one feels that if they limited their games to 15- 17 per season their win/loss ratio would be far higher. Their long seasons often result in complacency creeping in and results that should have gone their way not.

This years team have a brutal forward pack and an extremely exciting backline, almost half of the 2019 team will return this season and with last years experience behind them it should be one of the best Monnas teams we have seen in a decade.

Players to watch:

Heiko Pohlmann simply has Springbok written all over him, in our opinion he is the premier prop forward in the country. In the loose-forward department they have another 5 star prospect in Rynardt Mouton, he is truly a special player and will walk into the SA Schools team this year. Finally there is Herchelle Goodman, there is not enough space for us to write all the qualities this player possesses. He is one of the top prospects in the country, a special player and that special spark that Monument have missed in backlines of the past. His ability to create space and his overall reading of the game is a sight to behold, he will be a name long remembered for his exploits this year – you read it here first!

Young Gun:

Waldo van der Berg looks a good centre, Monnas have a habit of producing class centres and there is little doubt that Waldo could continue that fine tradition.

NGR Prediction:

Injuries to key players could derail their season as their Grade 11 group is nowhere near as strong as this years crop, that being said we expect them to easily be the Northern region champions and to push the premier schools to their limits. They are easily a Top 10 school and will make a hard push toward being crowned SA champions.

PRETORIA BOYS

2019 was a year to remember for Pretoria Boys, beating Affies will long go down as one of the upsets of the decade. Will we see a repeat from this years crop? Likely not in our opinion.

For years Pretoria Boys was a powerhouse in the Northern region but it seems as if the rugby program has been neglected, for some it would seem Pretoria Boys have lost their way somewhat.

They will have a powerful front row unit this year who should lay a solid foundation for a young and exciting backline, expect running and positive rugby from the boys this year. It will however be a tough year on paper, their opponents this year have a lot of quality meaning an uphill battle.

Players to watch:

Props Jaide Josephs and Valere Mombers look solid, they should take the battle to their physically imposing rivals this year and wont give an inch. On the wing Bradley Mayikeso the speedster looks a good shout for some exciting finishes this year.

Young Gun:

Likely the other wing will be Mfana Shabangu, this kid has explosive pace and could well be a dark horse for the season.

NGR Prediction: If they can crack the top 35 it will be a successful season for them. Those at the top at Pretoria Boys don’t place a big emphasis on rugby and the results have been clear to see on the field, but don’t disregard this school – the pupils play with a fire and passion and on a good day can knock over even the most esteemed of opponents.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION

Affies will be far stronger this year than in previous years and should provide stiff competition at the top tier, Garsies are proving to be an exceptional rugby school but in our mind you cannot look further than Monument ending top of the pile in the Northern region.

Previous unofficial winners:

YEAR CHAMPIONS
2019 Monument
2018 Affies
2017 Monument
2016 Affies
2015 Garsfontein
2014 Monument
2013 Affies
2012 Affies
2011 Affies
2010 Monument
2009 Monument
2008 Monument
2007 Affies
2006 Waterkloof
2005 Monument
2004 Monument
2003 Waterkloof
2002 Affies
2001 Affies
2000 Ermelo
1999 Affies
1998 Affies
1997 Affies
1996 Affies
1995 Affies
1994 Affies
1993 Monument
1992 Waterkloof
1991 Monument
1990 Randburg
1989 Kempton Park
1988 Lichtenburg
1987 Hugenote
1986 HTS Sasolburg
1985 Affies
1984 Affies
1983 Helpmekaar
1982 Pretoria Boys
1981 Affies
1980 Monument
1979 Monument
1978 Affies
1977 Stoffberg
1976 Potch Volkskool
1975 Helpmekaar
1974 John Vorster
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