Gauteng giants collide

Monument will play Florida in the final of the Macro Schools League next Tuesday.

One of the things that makes schools rugby in Gauteng different to just about every other region in the country is the insistence of the schools that there must be a league system in place, with eventual winners, in all age groups and in different divisions.

Most of the English-medium schools in the area do not enter these leagues, preferring to play traditional fixtures on a friendly basis, in keeping with most of the other provinces.

The divisions, strangely, are not named A, B, C, D or first, second, third etc. Instead the schools are divided into small, medium, big and macro. This has nothing to do with the size of the school – Alberton High, playing in Saturday’s small schools final, has a bigger learner enrolment than both schools in this year’s final for big schools – Helpmekaar and Riebeeckrand.

The top division is called the Macro Schools League and the school that has won it (and its predecessors) more often than any other over the years is Krugersdorp’s Hoerskool Monument who, in learner numbers, actually qualifies as a medium-sized school.

Monument play Florida in this year’s macro final and that game will not be on Saturday. It has been pushed back to next Tuesday because Monument have three players – flyhalf and captain Marais Schmidt, lock Ruan van Zyl and prop Gideon Muller in the SA U18 high-performance squad that has been playing games against international opposition. Florida have one player in that squad: flank Fabian Booysen.

Monument have taken the title 20 times in the last 25 years and the last time they did not win it – in 2008 – they lost to Florida. Florida also won in 2007.

The macro schools league only has three schools in it – Marais Viljoen is the other one – and Florida caused an upset by beating Monument 13-12 when the two met in the league in June. Marais Schmidt had an appalling game with the boot that day and Monument could have won comfortably. Schmidt’s kicking at Craven Week showed he is back on form and his side go into the game as favourites.

Helpmekaar Kollege, one of the few Afrikaans-medium private schools in these parts, are the defending champions in the big schools league. They face Randfontein’s Riebeeckrand in the final on Saturday. The medium schools final is between two of Joburg’s oldest Afrikaans-medium schools, Randburg and Linden, while Alberton High, the only English-medium schools to get through to the finals, play Germiston’s HTS Elsburg in the small schools final.

The winners and runners-up in all the sections go through to the last-16 stage of the Beeld Trophy, which involves the top two teams from the other provinces in the region that was once called the Transvaal province.

That competition gets under way 31 July.

By Gauteng correspondent