Diary of a Derby road trip

Laugh It Off promotions, the brand spankers and mischief makers, recently took to the road as part of the launch of their new book, Derby Day – South African Schoolboy Rugby.

Rooies vs Bloues Kroonstad, Free State, 26 July
The Rooies vs Bloues game is a big event for a small town and it’s haal uit en wys time in every way possible. Most notable is the big brag before the start of the 1st XV game. Bloues opts for a more theatrical approach to the school’s history, with voiceovers, music, costumes and schoolgirls cracking whips, that resound in the cold Free State air. Rooies do the complete opposite. Cars in the school colours of red, white and black, parade around the rugby field with the local bikers roaring their Harleys across the field.

Michaelhouse vs Hilton Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal, 2 August
Where did all the people come from? For us Capetonians, Michaelhouse feels like it’s far away from everything, and yet it is crowed with spectators who seem to be expecting a famine to strike during the day. The picnic baskets are full and the cooler boxes take two people to lift. In a commendable show of sportsmanship, the whole crowd moves over to the hockey field to support the first hockey teams, but three hours before the main rugby game starts, you can’t get near the main field.

Dale College vs Hudson Park King Williams Town, Eastern Cape, 9 August
Last stop on the tour is a game between Dale College and Hudson Park. It’s Eastern Cape black rugby and we have our own commentator. We’re sitting next to the chairman of Dale College’s Old Boys Union who keeps us informed of who to look out for. We also get introduced to various parents, grandparents and coaches who walk past our spot at the clubhouse and who all seem to know our commentator.

Derby Day – South African Schoolboy Rugby is available in bookstores and online at www.derbyday.co.za. The book is a rocking rugby road trip across the length and breadth of the land of the Springboks, visiting over 100 South African schools and towns, learning about their histories, chatting to the rugby coaches, and interviewing the famous players that went to the school. It is 400 pages of action photos and old boy anecdotes, player insights and rugby traditions.