On Saturday I had the privilege of attending some school boy rugby again, for the first time since 2019. School boys around the country have been denied their high school rugby and 1st xv years since the pandemic broke out back in 2020, and it was fantastic to see its return. I have always loved going down to the schools in my area to watch the youngster play. There is always such heart on display from the u14's all the way to the top and this weekends fixtures between Affies & Paul Roos made it seem like nothing had changed at all.
It just so happened that at the same time that the Blue Bulls were facing the Dragons in the URC at Loftus, right next door. Affies was playing host to the boys from the cape, Paul Roos. The crazy thing was, the school game had a much larger and louder crowd than that in attendance at Loftus Versfeld. Walking down the road from the parking towards the school gate, you could hear the chants from the boys in the stands. The pure heart and excitement emanating from them as they waited for their 1st XV to arrive on the field.
Paul Roos ran out first to a tunnel made by their school and to much noise from the supporters in the stands. Next up was the home team who came bolting out of the tunnel to their supporters drowning out the sound of anything else in the stadium and I realised then and there, that we are slowly returning to normal. You could see in the scholars faces that they were glad to have their sports back, but I think none enjoyed it more than the Affies Old Boys who, with beer in hand, ensured they cheered their team on from right behind the posts.
Affies started strong, scoring two penalties early on before the teams began to trade tries. Affies forward pack deserves a special mention as they seemed to be all over Paul Roos from the 1st whistle, right until the end of the fixture. Some bone crunching tackles from their pack, combined with a handful of crucial turn overs on their own line, ensured they lead the fixture for the entirety of the game.
Paul Roos boasted an 11 - 6 record against Affies going into the game, but failed to fire on the night. Whilst they had some hot steppers in their backline, their forwards failed to impose themselves on the Pretoria Boys and never really made it easy for their backs to string anything significant together. Ultimately losing the game 24 - 18.
If you have a solid rugby school in your area, trust me. Go down to the fields on a Saturday morning and watch these boys put their hearts and bodies on the line for their school. You won't be disappointed in what you see, and who knows, maybe you'll see the birth of the next great Springbok.