Boishaai building big season

Unbeaten after seven hit-outs, Paarl Boys’ High are looking ahead with confidence at the big clashes waiting at St John’s and Wildeklawer.

Battling past a resilient Millfield School 23-12 on day one of the St John’s Easter Rugby Festival, Paarl Boys’ are expecting a physical holiday weekend, with Hoerskool Florida and St John’s (Harare) still standing before them.

‘Florida will be the biggest challenge,’ said Paarl Boys’ director of rugby Richard Visagie. ‘They have tough ball carriers and are good in the contact area. Our approach has changed this year; we’ve traditionally tailored our game to focus on the forwards, but we’re trying to make the most use of a talented crop of players and plan on spreading the ball and playing a more expansive brand of rugby.’

JP Nel (scrumhalf) and Ryno Smith (fullback) are already making waves early in the season. However, Paarl Boys’ will be disappointed to lose a potent midfield pairing of Niel Maritz (outside) and Juan Peens (inside); the later lost during last week’s win against Outeniqua to a medial ligament tear and out for two months.

‘Excluding Juan, injuries have thankfully not been a concern so far,’ Visagie told ‘Our preparation, which began at the end of 2010 and placed a lot of emphasis on conditioning, was very successful.’

Running in 252 points in seven matches thus far, the work is paying dividends. Following their fixtures at St John’s, Boishaai travel to Kimberley for the Wildeklawer Schools Tournament, where they face stiff competition from Affies and EG Jansen.

Recent history sides with the Western Cape side, having beaten Affies at home, 13-6, in 2010. But given the change in game plan, could 2011 see a reversal in result?

‘Our matches with Affies are traditionally tough, but we surprised them last year. Our forwards stood up to their bigger counterparts, but our backline was the difference. We were able to make inroads when we spread the ball, it’s part of the reason we’ve placed more emphasis on it this year.’

By Rory Keohane