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Season Preview: Southern Region

*Southern Region schools are made up of teams from the Eastern Province and Border Unions

DALE

Dale College are yet another school heavily affected by player poaching and their geographical positioning. When one looks at Dale Junior teams they are among the best in the country, regularly being unbeaten. Dale have become somewhat of a feeder school to the wealthier and more established schools, had the school kept ahold of their talent they would easily be a regular in the Top 20.

This years group has talent but size has long been an issue, Dale’s backlines are always able to mix it up with the best but the forward pack has been lacking grunt for many a year.

Players to watch:

Keep an eye on Mbasa Jubisa and Sila Zweni.

Young Gun:

Juan Jeggels at pivot looks a very well rounded player.

NGR Prediction:

It will likely be a difficult season for the boys from King, they will play with the spirit that Dale College has become well know for but with Queens improving and Selborne looking strong they will likely not be considered a premier Border school this year. A top 40 finish will be a good season for the boys.

FRAMESBY

2019 will certainly be a year to remember for Framesby with many of the rankings website having them in their Top 10. There were some famous victories along the way although they did fall short in terms of the Southern region having lost out to Selborne and NGR’s eventual winners Grey High.

There are not many stayers from last years group so inexperience will certainly be a factor, they should do well locally as they have firmly established themselves as a powerhouse despite a few years in the wilderness.

As Under 16’s this group was ranked just inside the top 30, their support base will be weak as this years Grade 11’s were ranked well outside the Top 50. This means that injuries to key players will make it a long campaign indeed for the boys.

Players to watch:

Brandon Wilkie is an extremely talented centre who should be in the mix for the SA Schools squad form permitting and Ruan Claasen looks a very useful loose-forward.

Young Gun:

Out of last years Under 16 group a shining light was hooker Damian Roberts.

NGR Prediction:

We feel that they wont reach the heights of last year, it would be difficult in any event but their 1st XV’s inexperience at this level coupled with a lack of support from the Grade 11’s makes us feel that a push for a Top 30 spot should be their priority.

GRAEME

For the larger part of this century Graeme have played third fiddle in the Grahamstown stakes to both Kingswood and St Andrews.

When one looks at their junior age groups it is often a head scratcher as time and again they produce high quality teams, often these players however move onto other schools which means that the 1st XV often suffers.

Last years 1st XV were a quality side as Under 16’s but could not translate that same success to open level, perhaps this year Graeme can spring an upset or two?

Players to watch:

Keep a close watch on Andrew McCallum and Bhule Planga who look to be exciting prospects

Young Gun:

Jaden du Plessis look to be an exciting young lock

NGR Prediction:

Much of the same, they will push their local rivals hard and may feel that this is a good year to take on Kingswood but against more established opponents they will fall short

GREY HIGH

If there is ever a school that is truly consistent in the school rugby landscape it has to be Grey High School. Continually a Top 20 school this year they will be hoping to step things up a level with a backline that has what it takes to take on the best in the country.

They will easily be the champions of Port Elizabeth again and one of the top Southern Region schools as they are very year. The only question is whether or not the forwards will be able to provide their exciting backline with front foot ball, if not it will be a long season but if it happens expect some truly exciting rugby from the PE boys.

Players to watch:

Siviwe Zodani is an electrifying wing and will no doubt be provided quality ball by Larquin Goliath the hard running centre.

Young Gun:

Keep an eye on fly-half Divan Moss, he flew under the radar somewhat last year but he looks a special player.

NGR Prediction:

Grey High as mentioned are consistent, we expect that consistency to continue. Locally fantastic but nationally above average, a strong Grade 11 group provides much needed depth which makes us hope for a Top 10 push but feel likely a Top 15 finish is more realistic.

HUDSON PARK

When one looks at the powerhouses of Border rugby the names Dale, Selborne and Queens are generally the first to come up in a discussion. Rarely are Hudson named, but this year could be different.

They have a well balanced team with a strong forward pack and an exciting backline, they performed well as Under 16’s and one would expect a few upsets to be sprung along the way.

Players to watch:

Josh Jonas looks a rare talent, expect big things from him. Another player to keep your eye on is powerful prop Oscar Myataza.

Young Gun:

Speedy wing Ayabonga Mngaza looks a good player

NGR Prediction:

They will likely fall short against teams like Selborne and Grey High, but could very well take on teams like Dale and Queens.

KINGSWOOD

It is almost impossible to predict Kingswoods success at 1st XV level based on their junior level results. Often we have seen perceived weak groups go on to achieve huge success yet some strong groups go on to underachieve.

In Johnny Mallett they have a great rugby mind who our sources tell us has big plans for the program, but with competition fierce he has an uphill battle.

The College always manages to punch well above their weight, the school has a limited amount of boys and often takes the game to their opposition with much passion. Who could forget the Kingswood team of 2016?

This years group will not be their strongest and will likely fall short compared to their previous years, but Kingswood do have a secret weapon in the form of their post matric players who often come in and add much needed depth to the team.

Players to watch:

We have gone completely against the grain here and have combined the young gun with this category as we feel there is a player in this team that is on another level, the kids name is Dwayne Pharo. Pharo one feels if he were at a larger school would be a household name already, the kid is simply put one of the best athletes in the country bar none.

He is easily the fastest rugby player in the country having achieved a silver medal in the 100m on a national level and his sporting ability knows no end. He has achieved his provincial colours in rugby, cricket as well as hockey. He is a 5 star prospect and although he wasn’t selected for any elite player camps, just watch this space –he will go on to be a star in any sport he chooses to pursue.

NGR Prediction:

A difficult season but expect their backline to entertain all, some exciting running rugby should be the order of the day.

QUEENS

Few will question that Queens rugby has had its fair share of challenges over the years that have resulted in it from being one of the most feared rugby teams into the country to being seen as somewhat of a soft fixture for the bigger schools. Up until the mid to late 2000’s Queens were truly a powerhouse of the high school rugby scene.

The last decade however there seemed to be a steady decline. Have no doubt, this is still a school that has tremendous athletes however it seems that their rugby program has just not been as competitive as it was in the past with them allowing some top tier talent to be lost to other schools, Aston Fortuin is a name that comes to mind.

This years group looks set to far stronger than in previous years and there are some talented players on the books, one would hope at least that a bigger fight would be put up against their Southern rivals.

Players to watch:

Sihlalo Benge at pivot is an extraordinary talent, Queens managing to keep him this long is a miracle in itself as we are sure many KZN schools were knocking on the door. Another player to look out for is powerful hooker Liyema Mgwigwi who will be vital to their forward pack.

Young Gun:

We like the look of lock Eli van Schoor, looks a solid player and how we and Mgwigwi combine at the lineouts will be interesting to see.

NGR Prediction:

We expect Queens to be far more competitive this year than in previous years and to play some enterprising rugby. Hopefully this is a brand new dawn for Queens and they can build up their rugby program, a strong Queens College provides a strong feeder system for the Southern region.

Expect a hard push toward the Top 30, but realistically Top 35 – 40 is more realistic.

SELBORNE

Selborne have no doubt become the Border regions premier school. The quality of player produced over the past few years has been nothing short of extraordinary with names such as Bursey, Zwelendaba, Xamlashe, Goosen and Taylor coming to mind.

This year once again there are some great talents in the Selborne team and we expect another year of great rugby.

Players to watch:

Josh van Vreden is a truly special player, the loose-forward has all the ingredients in his game to go all the way to the top.

Young Gun:

Adam du Plessis look a solid scrum-half and a very exciting prospect.

NGR Prediction:

They simply have to push toward a Top 10 finish this year, finishing outside the Top 10 will be a huge under achievement for the school. Losing two of their premier forwards Goosen and Taylor will naturally hurt and of course coach Phiwe Nomlomo moving on wont help matters much as well.

ST ANDREWS

St Andrews have always punched above their weight as a rugby school, the coaching structures in place are second to none and this is proven time and again but the extraordinary results that such a relatively small schools continues to produce.

What makes the College’s results over the years that much more impressive is the fact that they do not rely heavily on recruitment and prefer to develop their own talent internally. Last years group was solid but what many do not know is that all players were developed from Grade 8 at St Andrews where they were anything but strong. The time the coaching team takes to develop this talent is certainly an example the larger schools should look to follow.

This is why we choose to ignore their age groups results and rather admit that we simply do not know what sort of team will be produced next year, with St Andrews predictions are difficult except for predicting their exceptional years that is (2017 springs to mind).

Their strength will lie in the forward pack we believe, they have talented backs but it is in the forwards we see a talented trio emerging.

Players to watch:

Joel Vides is a very exciting young prospect

Young Gun:

Will Oliver Rose be the final piece of the puzzle in terms of the loose-forwards or will it be a year too early for him? Time will tell.

NGR Prediction:

Expect nothing but positive rugby played in the right spirit, we are cautiously optimistic for this years group and expect them to push hard for a Top 20 finish.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION

Queens will be no pushovers this year but perhaps are lacking in depth a bit. Framesby will not be as strong as last years team, and St Andrews are always able to spring an upset or two. This will all go down to the Grey High vs Selborne game which should be an absolute humdinger.

It will be a tight fixture, but with home ground advantage we see it going Selborne’s way.

Previous unofficial winners:

YEAR CHAMPIONS
2019 Grey High
2018 Selborne
2017 St Andrews
2016 Dale
2015 Selborne
2014 Grey High
2013 Grey High
2012 Daniel Pienaar
2011 Selborne
2010 St Andrews
2009 Selborne
2008 Grey High
2007 Queens
2006 Queens
2005 St Andrews
2004 Grey High
2003 Grey High
2002 Grey High
2001 Grey High
2000 Grey High
1999 Dale
1998 Selborne
1997 Queens
1996 Grey High
1995 Dale
1994 Selborne
1993 Dale
1992 Dale
1991 Grey High
1990 Dale
1989 Grey High
1988 Selborne
1987 Dale
1986 Queens
1985 Selborne
1984 Queens
1983 Queens
1982 Queens
1981 Dale
1980 Queens
1979 Gill
1978 Selborne
1977 Grey High
1976 Grey High
1975 Grey High
1974 Graeme

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