‘When the one great scorer’

Below is a report I put together from the 2016 Old Boys 10s rugby tournament in Johannesburg in which I played for the Old Andreans, the old boys of my alma mater – St Andrew’s College.

The Old Andreans won the Plate Championship at the annual Old Boys Tens Tournament at Pirates Rugby Club in Johannesburg, remaining unbeaten through their six matches from 04 – 05 November.

Now in its third year, the Old Boys Tens attracts old boys unions from schools around the country for a festive social rugby event in the City of Gold that featured 24 teams in total.

College has participated in all three tournaments, finishing as Runners-up to Dale College at the inaugural event in 2014.

2016 saw the OAs play arguably their best rugby yet, spreading the ball wide and ensuring that the spirit of College Running Rugby remained strong.

In the Pool Stages, College disposed of Selborne College 28 – 0 in their opening game on Friday afternoon, before drawing 21 – 21 with Michaelhouse in heart-breaking fashion as the Balgowan school scored under the poles with the final movement of the match.

Saturday saw the OAs continue their good form in the Pool phase as they downed Hilton College 12 – 0, before beating the Wits Kudus 21 – 7.

The OAs finished tie for top of Pool C with Michaelhouse on 10 log points, however the KwaZulu Natalians progressed through to the Cup draw of the competition courtesy of a superior points difference.

Michaelhouse would go on to make the Cup Final, where they lost 10 – 31 to HTS Middelburg – who claimed their second consecutive title.

2015 saw the OAs lose 12 – 7 to King Edward VII School (KES) in the Plate Semi-Final and they fortunately went one better in 2016 beating CBC Boksburg 14 – 7 in a somewhat controversial fashion. Having trailed 0 – 7 at halftime, College struck immediately after the break to draw level, however a Highveld Lightning storm forced the match to a halt. After the storm, play resumed with the match being turned to a two-minutes per half sudden death. The OAs absorbed a few phases of CBC attack, before turning the ball over and scoring the match winning try courtesy of a crisp skip pass from Jonty Arnot.

The 2016 Plate Final was a replay of College’s Semi in 2015 as they faced KES. The Johannesburgers enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first stanza, taking a 7 – 0 lead into half time. Proceedings could have been worse, were it not for a valiant effort from Charlie Gird on defence as the former Merriman lad put in a splendid chase to reel his opponent in metres short of the tryline.

College hit their straps in the second half, drawing level early on in the piece with their first try. Quick hands from James Melvill put Sabelo Siyakatshana in space, with the winger bumping off a defender to score the try.

KES then seemed destined to score with just 3 minutes left on the clock; however a lack of an appreciation of the laws cost them dearly. With a 4-man overlap outwide inside the OA 22m area, KES opted for a cross field kick, which resulted in a free kick to College due to the tournament rules only permitting kicking inside one’s own 22m area.

From the ensuing free kick, Jonny Mallett produced some astute tactical genius, putting in a long range punt for the speedsters to haul in. Ayesha Cindi smartly gathered the troublesome bouncing ball and fed Siviwe Gushu who drew in the last defender and popped to Warwick Austin (aka Roadkill ie yours truly) to canter in unopposed to dot down beneath the uprights.

Andre ‘Tank’ Coetzee added the extras to College’s 80 metre try to make it a 14 – 7 game and in spite of the final siren having sounded, the referee insisted that there was still time on the clock.

Hearts were pounding in the chests of the College supporters as KES put in some stellar attacking phases, before a loose pass bounced into touch. 14 – 7 the final score and a deserved Plate Trophy to the Old Andreans. Highlights of the match can be seen in the YouTube video at the top of the post.

An unbeaten run from a total of six matches played by the OAs with five victories and one drawn match was what the scorecard read at the end of yet another successful Old Boys Tens.

16 tries were scored by College in the six matches, whilst just six tries were conceded in what was a gutsy display of defensive work.

Some very sore and tired bodies gathered in the beer tent at the end of the day to watch captain Pieter Greyling go on stage and claim the sought after prize.

Another superb weekend of camaraderie and bonding between a special group of Andreans. Friendships old and new were forged in true College spirit, with many a rendition of the old school war cries belted out long into the night in a nostalgic fashion that only an Andrean could know.

A special thank you must go to Pieter Greyling and James Melvill for their hard work put in behind the scenes to ensure that the OAs entered a side to the tournament. Thanks should also be given to Melvill & Moon as well as the Old Andrean Club for their generous support which contributed to a wonderful weekend for all involved.

One thing that will ring true to all Andreans comes from a plaque at school that had an inscription from a Grantland Rice poem that read:

“When the one great scorer comes to write against your name,
He marks, not that you won or lost,
But how you played the game”

Still one of my favourite quotes to this day and something I find incredibly apt for a tournament such as the Old Boys Tens, where the emphasis is rather on camaraderie and nostalgia rather than points on a scoreboard.

Pics below courtesy mostly of Konraad Janse van Rensburg – also an OA.

You will also note a new haircut I am sporting – apparently I skipped all the Life Orientation classes at school about ‘Peer Pressure‘.

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