KERF set for some pulse-pounding action

HOSTS Kearsney College and Hoërskool Dr E.G. Jansen, seen here in action at last year’s festival, will play the final game of the 2024 festival. | Hannah Shirley

HOSTS Kearsney College and Hoërskool Dr E.G. Jansen, seen here in action at last year’s festival, will play the final game of the 2024 festival. | Hannah Shirley

Published Mar 24, 2024


WHATEVER happens on the senior rugby stage in KZN, you can always rely on thrilling rugby from the schoolboys at the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival.

It truly is an annual feast of pulse-pounding action, and next weekend will see 14 of the country’s top rugby-playing schools vie for bragging rights at the Botha’s Hill School.

This 15th incarnation welcomes three festival first-timers in the form of Rondebosch Boys’ High from Cape Town, Pearson High School from Gqeberha and Hoërskool Rustenburg from North West.

In addition to these 1st XV high school battles, there will be exciting primary school action, with 10 local under-13 teams participating during the three play days in a new look festival format. Historically there has been an U13 curtain-raiser each day, but this year a full primary schools festival will run concurrently on an adjacent field.

On day one this Thursday (March 28), the opening encounter will feature Worcester Gymnasium tackling KERF newcomers Hoërskool Rustenburg at 9am. The second day’s play is on Saturday (March 30) and day three on Easter Monday (April 1). The final clash of the festival will see hosts Kearsney College take on Hoërskool Dr E.G. Jansen at 3.40pm.

Kearsney’s 1st XV got the better of the Boksburg boys on the second day of last year’s event and will be eyeing a repeat of that hard-earned result.

Neil van Heerden and Tera Mtembu’s charges open their festival account against a solid Hoërskool Framesby unit at 2.20pm on the first day, ahead of a much-anticipated match-up with Rondebosch Boys High in the final game of Day two.

The hosts are well placed to improve on last year’s one-from-three record at the festival, having enjoyed a promising start to their 2024 season, winning three of their first four matches. Impressive victories over Witteberg (17-5), Hentie Cilliers (41-14) and Maritzburg College (16-14) was offset somewhat by a 0-23 trouncing by Durban High School, but the One-Stripe will surely use the latter result as motivation for a big push this Easter weekend.

The DHS 1st XV looks to be the KZN side to beat, boasting another team full of talent. In players such as No 8 Khanyisa Stamper and midfielder Zingce Simka, head coach Peter Engeldow has more than enough firepower to go unbeaten at the festival.

The remaining participating KZN schools are regulars Glenwood High School and Westville Boys’ High. The Green Machine won all three of their festival games last year, but will look to rebound from an uncharacteristic season-opening defeat to Welkom-Gimnasium. Westville, who opened their 2024 account with a 17-25 loss to Michaelhouse, will be aiming for improvement too.

Rustenburg will fancy their chances, having beaten Glenwood 26-24 last year, after the latter went unbeaten at KERF, while Pearson and Rondebosch remain litmus tests for any side, with Rondies having picked up memorable derby wins over SACS, Wynberg and Bishops in their 2023 season.

The remainder of the competitors include Krugersdorp powerhouse Hoërskool Monument, Hoërskool Noord-Kaap from Kimberley, Hoër Landbouskool Marlow from Cradock and Humansdorp-based Nico Malan High School.

Monnas thumped Welkom 64-28 in their season opener and will be out to replicate their 2023 KERF heroics and go three from three. Considering the inclusion of forwards such as tighthead Wikus Meyer (1.95m, 127kg) and second rower Jacques Botha (2.06m, 128kg), stopping them will be a tough ask.

Participating U13 teams:

Ashton International College Ballito, Chelsea Prep, Glenwood Prep, Highbury Prep, Hillcrest Primary, Kloof Senior Primary, Umhlali Prep, Westville Senior Primary, Winston Park Primary and the KZNRU Ibutho Development Team.

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