The schools rugby season resumes on Saturday after the long July holiday with Pretoria Boys High hosting Grey College at 3pm.
The playing field has been levelled slightly this year by the interference of Saru’s high-performance programme, which sees a number of the Grey College players, including their top stars, unable to play because they will be in East London where the SA side meet France on Friday.
Boys High have lost just one player to the high-performance squad – speedy winger Richmond Collins – while Grey have seven out: Johan Goosen, Ruwellyn Isbel, Paul Jordaan, Kevin Luiters, William Small-Smith, Neethling Fouche, and Neil Jordaan.
However, Boys High coach Greg Hassenbach has no illusions about the size of the task they face.
‘I guess, in any year, Grey can put out a 2nd XV that is capable of beating most teams, so the side we will be facing will be very strong, even without their stars,’ he told keo.co.za.
‘We only got the side together late last week and have had a few good practice sessions and a game against the Harlequins U19 side that went quite well, so I know the boys will be up for it and will keep trying throughout.’
Hassenbach thinks the long break might do his side good.
‘All the niggles and injuries have had time to heal and everyone is fresh and enthusiastic,’ he said. ‘On the other hand the Grey boys will have had a busy holiday with practices before Craven Week and three hard games there, so they will be less fresh.’
Grey will be travelling up by train for what is one of the biggest schools rugby fixtures on the schools calendar (last year there were 27 rugby games played on the day). Their 1st XV team will, however, arrive in Pretoria on Friday and stay in a hotel.
‘So, while the rest of our sides may benefit from their opponents spending a cold night on the train the night before, the firsts won’t get that advantage,’ Hassenbach said.
By Gauteng correspondent