On Saturday St Andrew’s walk down the dip, over Beaufort Street and up to Somerset Heights and Graeme College for an FNB Classic Clash between two of the oldest schools in the Eastern Cape.
St Andrew’s was founded in 1855, Graeme College in 1873 as the Grahamstown Public School or the Public Undenominational School, then Victoria High Schools , then Victoria Boys’ High and then, from 1939, Graeme College.
They started playing each other in the 1870s, at first fairly casually. After all they were neighbours and matches happened easily. Mostly St Andrew’s have been the winners, sometimes by big scores, as in 2010 when they won 76-0. But things have been much closer the last two years – 10-7 in 2011 and 10-6 in 2012. That suggests that the unlikely is decidedly possible.
Both schools take their rugby seriously. In Graeme’s case that is not surprising as their headmaster is Peter Reed, a provincial scrumhalf in his day.
St Andrew’s have been doing well this year and are presently ranked 10th on the FNB Top 20. They remain unbeaten after victories over Pretoria Boys High (22-20), Helpmekaar (32-16), St Stithians (32-16), Bishops (28-21), Pearson (21-12) and Daniël Pienaar (29-7). Graeme have lost just one match – 8-3 to Selborne. They had big wins over Gill of Somerset East (72-22), Volkskool of Graaff-Reinet (33-3), Stirling of East London (40-0) and last weekend, Cambridge (19-13). Graeme believe the Classic Clash could be a close affair.
Big St Andrew’s lock Sintu Manjezi is the only player in the two teams for Saturday who has been to Craven Week – a strong player. He and the Graeme captain Gordon-Wayne Plaaitjies, are both playing in the 1st XV for their third year. The Graeme vice-captain Sipiwe Mhlom was in the Eastern Province Academy Week side while scrumhalf Craig Williams and flank Ethan September (were at the Grant Khomo Week for provincial Under-16 teams). St Andrew’s certainly have great respect for this Graeme side who have 13 players back from their 2012 side.
It will be a great day in Grahamstown on Saturday. Such derbies, ancient and between neighbours, is the cause of great interest in the City of Saints and Schools.
Fixtures for Graeme vs St Andrew’s
11.00: 5th XV
12h15: 4th XV
14.45: 2nd XV
16.00: 1st XV
Marais A Field:
09.30: 6th XV
10.30: Under-14B vs St Andrew’s C
11.30: Under-15B vsSt Andrew’s C
Graeme College: 15 Angelo Fraser, 14 Xhanti Mbane, 13 Abongile Hashe, 12 Gordon-Wayne Plaatjes (captain), 11 Xanti Sandi, 10 Sethu Pinini, 9 Craig Williams, 8 Siya Nzuzo, 7 Ethan September, 6 Ryan Calitz, 5 Siphe Mhlom (vice-captain), 4 Lungi Dube, 3 Siyasanga Mthathi, 2 Odwa Xonxa, 1 Xandré Vos.
St. Andrew’s College: 15 Courtney Archer, 14 Mbulelo Mama, 13 Robert Ball, 12 Ryan Horne, 11 Roy Bowles, 10 Ethan Fortuin, 9 Jasson Baggott (vice-captain), 8 Stuart Stopforth, 7 Matt Andrews, 6 Tristan van Heteren, 5 Sintu Manjezi (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Adrian Parsons, 2 Thomas Filmer, 1 David Murray.
Venue: Somerset Field, Graeme College, Grahamstown
Expected weather conditions: Partly cloudy with a high of 27°C, dropping to 16°C.
Referee: Sindile Ngese