Wynberg v SACS, an enduring derby

From left, former Springbok flank Rob Louw, broadcast legend Trevor Quirk and Dr Chris Hugo-Hamman. Picture: Gavin Withers Photography

The end of the schools rugby calendar on the Cape peninsula is marked by a number of traditional derbies between schools with long-standing rivalries on the pitch.

Indeed Derby Day is not limited to rugby, with other winter sporting codes in action on the day.

The closing matches of the season between the schools traditionally take place at Wynberg High, the first round earlier in the season hosted at the picturesque fields of the 193-year-old SACS in Newlands. Founder’s Week sees a collection of events and activities which sees Wynberg past pupils participating in events such as a Golf Day and the annual Dinner traditionally on the Wednesday. It is a series of gatherings designed to commemorate the school’s establishment in 1841.

Past pupils of these eminent schools have traditionally migrated to one of four southern suburbs rugby clubs to continue their rugby activities, firstly as players, then in more enduring roles as coaches and administrators. Through the decades, False Bay has attracted a high percentage of past pupils of both schools and it is thus appropriate that the club arrange a function which so perfectly fits into Founder’s Week.

The running of an amateur rugby club is the responsibility of the club itself and False Bay’s 100Club, the fundraising arm, arranges three functions for its members which feature eminent guest speakers to enthral the attendees.

Monday night saw over one hundred rugby enthusiasts attend an evening of banter, reminiscence and expert opinion hosted by the doyen of SA sports broadcasting, Trevor Quirk.

On one side sat the inimitable and iconic former Springbok flank, Rob Louw who is the Patron of Wynberg BHS Rugby. On the other was Dr Chris Hugo-Hamman, SACS First XV, WP Under 20, UCT and an Oxford Blue.

Louw was probably the prototype of the modern rugby player in an era where bulk and brute force determined selection. His modest, friendly nature endeared him to all. He and Hugo-Hamman at times mischievously employed good-natured change-room banter, the mutual respect and warmth between friends palpably evident. Fluctuating between serious discussion and lighthearted humour with Louw willingly accepting the tongue-in-cheek ribbing launched in his direction by his fellow guest, be it regarding school or university allegiances. Their timeless put-downs were typical of a rugby relationship which developed into a tight friendship.

It was a perfect launchpad for a week of commemoration, embodying the rivalry while at the same time demonstrating the mutual respect and regard which past pupils have for each other.

As the past pupils celebrated in fine form, the future past pupils for these schools were preparing to stamp their mark on proceedings on Saturday. The clash between the two schools is guaranteed to deliver top quality rugby, fuelled by a rivalry more than a century and a half in development, a never-ending work in progress.

In the first round match, Wynberg, under the guidance of Director of Rugby Nick Groome, registered a 30-17 win. Currently tenth in the national High School rankings, Wynberg are focused on making it a double this year. SACS, perhaps not as accomplished as their rivals this season, will not travel down the M3 with anything less than sharing spoils for the season in mind.

It makes for enthralling rugby up at Silverhurst in Wynberg, with 16 matches on the day, the first kicking off at 8am. The clash of the First XV begins at 12.30.

The completion of the triumvirate, sees Monday’s hosts of an appetiser-to-savour, False Bay receive St George’s of Strand, who delivered an unexpected victory over Maties on Wednesday, at Constantia in the last of their fixtures for the season. It may be easy to overlook the fact that the Bay are defending Super League A Champions.

Their season has at times been hamstrung by lukewarm performances, the success of the club is there to see in the log positions held by teams across the club. As defending champions, this depth will be invaluable as they prepare to contest the Gold Cup, SA’s National Club Championship.

Uni-Mil, Tygerberg RFC and False Bay make up Cape Town’s three participants in the competition, which starts in the middle of September.

Matches at the Philip Herbstein Fields kick off at 1.30pm with the main event starting at 4pm.

  • Jon Harris is a member of False bay RFC.