221-0 Bloem-gate…. – The View Of An Old Boy.

Shock horror the famous or infamous ‘Green Machine’ took a pasting from Grey Bloem this past weekend. The 1st team lost 83-10 and over 9 teams took more than 100 points, but what stood out like a sore thumb was the under15D score of 221-0! This scoreline is almost unbelievable considering at that level they play 50-minute games, so doing the maths that is 4.42 points per minute! Considering it takes time to kick-off catch the ball and pass down the backline to score plus the conversion, scrums (if any) and line-outs (if any) there was probably 35 minutes of actual game time which then converts to 6.3 points per minute, so round up to a try a minute. This is ludicrous & actually unbelievable, unless the Glenwood boys kicked off, stood still and watched the Grey players do ‘back-line’ drills to score OR they just stood behind the posts all game. Some people are saying it was an internal revolt against the school leadership and coaches for making the boys play the game others are saying the Grey was just that good. I cannot see it being the latter because ‘scare-crows’ would provide more resistance.

 

Another theory is that there were only 10 to 12 Glenwood boys on the field. Stories are that almost 60 of the 500 required boys needed for the trip didn’t go due to costs (R800 per pupil) OR they just didn’t want to do a 1,220km round trip to get hammered, whatever it is the responsibility of this sort of result must lie at the acting Headmistress’s desk. It should have been spotted on Thursday if teams looked depleted due to lack of commitment and the whole tour cancelled last minute, however, it seems the boys were sent up to cold & dry Bloem like ‘lambs to slaughter’. Looking at previous year’s results only a bloody-minded imbecile couldn’t work out that if Glenwood were not at full strength they would be obliterated by the well-oiled, well drilled and supremely fit Grey teams. I can almost imagine it on the bus, hey under 15D boys, well those of us who could make it, let’s show the teachers and coaches how we feel up this and just not play properly in the game so we send a message to them that we not happy playing this fixture and that we want more fixtures in the year vs competition we actually have a chance against.

 

Another scenario could have been hey u15c and d, there are only 20 of us so some of us going to have to play more than 2 games, who is willing to do that? Whatever the truth is it must be investigated and an official statement made by the Glenwood powers that be. Also, there needs to be an investigation into why the game wasn’t called off by the referee earlier. We know Grey will not apply the 50/60 point ‘mercy’ clause by cutting games off early, but once past 100 points, nothing is gained by either team. Grey OB’s will harp on about being ‘manne’ and taking it, learning to never ‘give-up’ etc, but at the end of the day these are only 14 and 15-year-old boys playing low-level rugby for the fun of it, it’s not an international level game which shouldn’t be called. If I was a parent watching I would have asked for the game to be called. Little Johnny can learn to ‘vasbyt’ and be ‘tough’ etc in other fields of life. Yes, life is tough and sport helps the boys to learn that, but by Grey carrying on they also learning that it’s ok to humiliate others. What was really disappointing from my perspective was coaches and parents allowing the Grey Boys to pose in ‘No1’ shots next to the scores to really gloat about it. Something I thought would not be in Grey’s ethos. I have actually asked ex International Ref and father of a 1st team player, Marius Jonker to look into with the school and local Society Refs, let see if anything comes out of it.

 

Glenwood is a very proud school with a 107-year rugby playing history, they not exactly new kids on the block trying to establish themselves. Over the past 100 years, they rank around 5th strongest in KZN after older schools like Maritzburg College, Hilton, Michaelhouse and DHS. They have played both DHS and College on more than 150 occasions each with Hilton being the 1st real annual derby starting in 1914. Over the past 15 years, Glenwood has established itself as arguably the best rugby school in KZN, with good depth and performing age group teams. They haven’t always been the strongest at C, D, E and F team level, either due to lack of numbers or poor coaching at that level. However, only 10 years ago they had their most experienced teachers and coaches, Mr Kevin Jordan and Mr Rob Hutchison coach the under14C, D, E & F to the best results in the school. In those years the school regularly could put out up to 28 teams on a Saturday. Since then, it seems coaching has dropped off at that level and the participation reduced, is that down to boring Super Rugby and a failing Springbok side, maybe. There has been far more competition for participation from sports like Basketball, Golf, Hockey, Soccer etc since. Glenwood has around 1,200 pupils of which only a third play rugby, so 400 odd. Of those 400, 250 are boarders so live on campus and have time to practice, gel with each other playing touch etc. The ‘day-dogs’ make up the remaining bunch. Traditionally the ‘day-dogs’ come from local suburbs where soccer is the focus in primary school. These boys arrive in grade 8 literally never having kicked or passed a rugby ball. The boys on rugby scholarships (around 15 to 20) make up the A team and the rest is made up of these novices. This shows in the under 14 results and sometimes to an extent in under 15. It’s a pressure most Gov schools in KZN and Gauteng have to face where soccer is number one, especially amongst previously disadvantaged kids.

 

Around 2000, there was a concerted effort by the then headmaster Trevor Kershaw to improve sport to improve the school’s marketability. He focused on getting in the right professional coaches, setting up academies and bringing in the experts & equipment. It was a first in KZN to move towards professionalising schools sport, even allowing Academy boys to have flexible teaching to fit in their sports training. This investment started to pay dividends with improving results which led to stronger schools being more interested in playing Glenwood. In 2006 they started an inter-schools with Grey Bloem and in 2007 with Affies, agreeing home one year away the next fixtures. Prior to that, they had an annual fixture with St Stithians which started getting too one sided for Glenwood so was stopped. Affies and Grey are arguably the two best rugby schools in SA, especially with regards to their depth. Grey having a large boarding house and Affies in the heart of a rugby-mad Pretoria area. If one could say it was David vs Goliath would be an understatement. In the early 90’s Glenwood played the Cherries a couple of times scrapping a win or two, so this was deep-end stuff. Glenwood kicked off the interschools with Grey on an amazing note, winning their one and only game against Grey in 2006, 14-10 under the able leadership of Warren Whiteley (1st try scored by him). This must surely go down as the finest memory in Glenwood’s proud history, see here for the clip; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-rGpvRrMjA. Grey, as they always do, hit back in 2007 with a complete demolition 81-0 win in Bloemfontein, followed by the results below;

 

 

SCHOOL

Grey

Affies

 
   

College

   

Venue

1st Played

2006

2007

 

Home

2006

W  14 - 10

   

Away

2007

L  0 - 81

L  11 - 48

Home

Home

2008

L  14 - 22

W  24 - 7

Away

Away

2009

L

W 24 - 10

Home

Home

2010

L  6 - 19

L  32 - 54

Away

Away

2011

L  6 - 28

L  9 - 18

Home

Home

2012

(snow)

L  10 - 28

Away

Away

2013

L 7 - 67

L  23 - 53

Home

Home

2014

L 12-29

W 36-22

Away

Away

2015

L 10-40

L 20-22

Home

Home

2016

L 10-39

L 0-63

Away

Away

2017

L 10-83

No Game

 

 

Since 2014 the Grey results have been getting better and that can be seen across all teams, but then suddenly this complete ‘blow-out’ or outlier we got in 2017. There is far more to this than meet the eye. Glenwood in this time has lost long standing headmaster and the spark behind its revival, Mr Trevor Kershaw, to alleged extortion of school funds, something that is hanging like a dark cloud over the school. Also, they have lost rugby-mind and genius Sean Erasmus to Paarl Boys High, where he has turned things around for them and lead them to a 3 year locally unbeaten side with many SA schools players. He is in fact now knocking on the door for SA Schools, SA Under 20 and provincial coaching honours. His understudy in those successful 10 years, Rudi Dames took control with limited success and has now moved onto to Pretoria Boys High where it seems in his first season is doing good things. In 2017 Jeremy McLaren took over the reigns as 1st team coach, a great rugby brain again and a humble/friendly guy to boot, who get’s his players to play for him. The 2017 side was packed with extremely good individual talent, mostly in grade 11, which bodes well for 2018. He also led the KZN team to their first Craven Week ‘final’ in 20 years which they lost to a more balanced and mature Lions side. Of the 18 boys picked for Craven Week and Academy Week, 13 are in grade 11 plus the 8 boys selected in the KZN Grant Khomo side. Three of those boys who made SA Schools, Jordan Clarke (prop), Conan Le Fleur (u19 in 2018) and Jaden Hendrickse (scrumhalf) will be back. Glenwood will be more than competitive in 2018 as things stand. Other senior staff losses have been Shaun Van Rensburg (Marketing & Recruiting) and Steven La Marque (OB, Head of Aquatics & under15a rugby coach) to DHS where they have followed ex-acting Headmaster Tony Pinheiro, now Headmaster at rival school DHS. Along with that Mrs Andri Barnes has taken over as Acting Headmistress until a permanent person is placed, recruitment thereof start in earnest in early Sept 2017. In the meantime, Glenwood have appointed replacements in Mr Jonathan Piek (OB, ex Clifton MIC Rugby and now Marketing & Recruitment), Mr Reinhard Gerber ( Monnas OB, ex Border Bulls Dogs & Sport Officer at Stirling High School and now Head of Sport) & Mr Rian Carr (Stellenbosch Bio kineticist - Conditioning Coach) to help ease the burden. I believe another two senior rugby coaches will be starting soon too. My hope is they focus on building the depth and getting the D, E & F team properly coached and ready. The right structures and depth with build the rugby program to ensure players can just slot into positions in higher teams when injuries hit. A big part of rebuilding will come from a strong Headmaster focused on getting the attitude of the boys right and ensuring the right approach and scheduled is agreed. I would love to see Glenwood playing local rivals Hilton, Michaelhouse and Northwood again to help avoid these long trips. Really only the 1st and A teams should be travelling to games and festivals, the lower sides should enjoy playing local rivals. I quite like the idea of setting up a lower league with Maritzburg College, Westville and Kearsney who can field more than 3 sides per age group. That way the boys are playing more and will be better prepared to move up if needed.

 

In conclusion, the sun will rise tomorrow and this will all be forgotten about quickly, but it has seriously dented the reputation of Glenwood. They have been trying to shake-off the whole ‘poaching’, ‘overaged’ win-at-all-costs perception others who may be jealous of their achievements bandy about. Our friends in the leafy-suburbs must be loving all this negative attention and embarrassment. What we do know is Glenwood A team rugby is in good hands at least for another 5 years with the under 15A beating Grey 27-24 in Bloem, a strong crop in grade 11 opens rugby covering a slightly weaker under 16 group and a decent under 14 bunch. Glenwood has always been fighters and will not stand down to anyone, proven in the past decade. We may come from a more middle-class background with our grounds in a degrading area but Gibson House, the 280 strong boarding house is thriving and many boys from around the country are still arriving there to hopefully wear the Green & Gold of Glenwood in whatever sport they excel in. Glenwood is like a Phoenix and will rise from the ashes…..Go Green!! Jimolayo Ji, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOqqIjLyODk

Nihil HumaniAlienum!

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