After a week of sometimes great and sometimes not so great contests, one can ask yourself was it worth it.
Speaking for myself a very Big Yes. Herewith then Ruggas.co.za's thank you to all involved in the organising of this tournament especially to the Boishaai crowd that made all feel welcome in their tiny "dorpie". Boishaai, Sean congratulations are in order.
The teams: I do think if this tournament is to be a continued success better homework needs to be done by the organisers. Although some teams served the purpose for the tag of "Ag Shame" or even "Cute", they did not serve any other purpose other than ammunition for the "I told you so" critics of this tournament. Around the world, there are schoolboy rugby teams that are 10 times the quality of the invitational teams which would make the winning of the Oaklands Cup, not a foregone conclusion. The brotherhood, tradition and unity displayed by Hartpury, Napier and Christchurch set them apart from the rest of the teams and that also showed in their on-field behaviour and performance.
Lessons learnt "hopefully" by the South African schools. There is no shame in playing a very physical, direct and structured game of rugby. Hartpury together with the Jaguares on day one, as well as Napier Boys High and Christchurch Boys High, showed up a big shortcoming in South African schoolboy rugby, we struggle against teams that play a physical, direct and structured game. "The Old South African Way" that made us the most feared rugby nation in the world, is now a no no.
The referees - Although I am in no position to criticise the decisions by the referees during this festival I do have a problem with the number of cards issued during day three and day four. It seemed as if the Spur was desperate to get customers and promised the referees free sparkles with ice cream on day three and added chocolate sauce on day four. This was supposed to be a celebration of schoolboy rugby but several games were spoiled by the yellow and red cards issued on the last two days, robbing the public of some great contests. Discipline on the field is very important but ...................
Boland Landbou - Oloff Bergh is known for always claiming the underdog tag for the Farmers. I will like to hear him trying to convince a grade one Sunday School teacher who watched this team play at Paarl, that they are just an average team trying their best.
Glenwood - Glenwood was never tested but looked full of running and should be a Top 10 contender.
Monnas - Monnas in their first match against the Cavaliers were still struggling to run like a well-oiled engine. Although a lot better against Napier on Friday I do feel that maybe just maybe that monster pack can be used more often in earning the right to go wide. But Top 10 definately.
Oakdale - As with Glenwood not tested at all but a quality side that also should be up there at the top.
Outeniqua - Also not tested but I must admit maybe a bit harsh in the initial season preview, could be a contender for a top 10 spot again.
Affies - If I was Moody's or Fitch I would have been forced to downgrade this talented team's grading a lot. I was really disappointed with Affies and if they continue to play like at the Boishaai Festival they will not make the Top 10. The team I saw at the Bulls Prestige evening gave me goosebumps, this one, well, let's just stick with I am missing the WIT BULLE.
Grey College - If I did not see them play against Garsfontein I would have said play them upfront and starve those backs of any ball, but unfortunately they have the forwards too. My early season favourites for number 1.
Hilton - Impressed me at the St John's Festival and showed some great skills and heart during this week. Whatever they are doing at Hilton they are doing it right.
Paarl Gimnasium - A quality side with seemingly no weaknesses and a game against Grey College could have just determined the no1 side in South Africa. Such a shame it will not happen in 2018.
Paarl Boishaai - Maybe not enough matches played going into the Festival especially with the quality of opponents lined up, but I am sure Sean and the team would love it if they are written off this early in the season. A Quality side that is coached brilliantly BUT big boys running at their backline a definite concern.