After some banter around the braai fire between a group of mates who happen to be old boys from a variety of KZN schools, the debate raged around which was the best Rugby School in KZN. The general consensus was that looking at 1st XV results only that it was agreed that Glenwood was for 2017 and for the past few years the top 1st XV in KZN. However where the debate became a bit of a stalemate was who takes the 2nd place for 2017 and what defined a good rugby playing school?
The 2017 School Boy Rugby season has now completed for most of the KZN schools barring Glenwood and College who still play into the 3rd Term. It was a season that made it almost impossible to make any predictions based on previous results. Eg House beating Westville and Kearsney, Hilton Beating Kearsney and DHS, DHS Beating Glenwood and College, College beating Hilton and Westville, Westville beating DHS and Kearsney. One thing was clear is that the KZN 1st XV's performed inconsistently. This led to trying to decide on a tie breaker to determine what criteria should be used for looking at a Rugby School. The key being comparing one school to another not just a specific Team from each school but as a collective. The emphasis being on participation and the school culture with boys wanting to play rugby. Looking at the 2017 season using just KZN based teams it then became quite easy to settle on a winner of the title of Top Rugby School for 2017. That being Maritzburg College.
College had consistently been able to field 10 x Open Rugby Teams, 5 x U16, 5 x U15 and 5 x U14 sides on any given Saturday. (Rumour has it that at a push an 11ths team could have been pulled together if required as well as an U15F and U14F.) None of the other Tier 1 KZN Schools were able to match College Team for Team on a fixture day with 25 or more Rugby sides. The result was that College played many of their lower teams on a stagger to fill up the fixture list to give as many teams as possible the chance to play. This resulted in the likes of the U14E's from College playing the U14A's from non Tier 1 schools or the 5th's playing some 1st XV's.
With 149 Rugby games being played, a win ratio of 78% (considering some of the losses were on the stagger) and an average score over all fixtures of 32 - 11 to College, in terms of KZN Rugby Schools the stats speak for themselves.
The Challenge over the coming years for the likes of Westville, Hilton, Kearsney, Glenwood and College is going to be finding fixtures inside KZN for all their teams or making this up by playing more out of Province fixtures. Sadly the level of participation in sports in general but specifically rugby in a number of schools is on the decline eg DHS and Northwood struggled to field 12 Teams over all age groups in 2017. The emphasis and focus is often soley on the 1st Team results of a school. The reality is that the 1st Team players represent a fraction of the number of boys playing on any given week end. The great thing about rugby is that it is a team sport that caters for all shapes, sizes and skill levels. Long may it last that the 8ths, 9ths or 10ths or the U14E players get a game every week end as well.