“On the Highveld, where the world is open and the sky broad above, where a man breathe freely and know there’s a God to love” Ermelo High School is situated.
Ermelo was formed in the Eastern Transvaal, now in Mpumalanga, as a centre for farmers in 1880 and named after the Dutch hometown of Frans Lion Cachet, the town’s first dominee.
On 11 April 1914 a long-cherished ideal was realised and the roots were planted of a school which would grow rich traditions down the years. The school has produced top students for 86 years and still attracts pupils from far and wide because it strives for excellence. At Hoërskool Ermelo balance is the watchword. Once an Errie, always and Errie winner.
Motto of school: Non viribus sed virtute (Not by strength but by goodness)
Date of foundation: 11 April 1914
School address: Private Bag X9017, Ermelo. 2350
Rugby at Ermelo
The school opened its doors on 11 April 1914 to 240 pupils and teachers. Even then rugby put out its first shoot amongst Erries.
In 1916 the school played for the second year in the Transvaal Country Cup competition and won it. The coach was Dominee Koot Reyneke, himself a Springbok in 1910 – a remarkable one for he learnt to play rugby only in a prisoner of war camp during the South African War. The 1916 team also had in its number three players from the town team, as was the custom of the time.
In 1920 Hoërskool Ermelo won the first Interschool competition against Heidelberg, the forerunner of what became the Administrator’s Cup. Ermelo won 3-0. That was the start and over the years the school has gone from strength to strength. Between 1952 and 1962 Ermelo was knocked out five times in the semi-final of the Administrator’s Cup.
From 1985 to 1995 Mr Spiere Janse van Rensburg was the principal of Hoërskool Ermelol. He had been a Junior Springbok hooker in his day and served schools rugby in various capacities. Apart from his involvement at his own school, he was also the coach and a selector of the SA Schools team.
The next headmaster, Mr Koos Kruger, has continued this rugby tradition and became the chairman of Mpumalanga Schools and vice-president of the Mpumalanga RFU and an SA Schools selector.
From 1985 to 2000 Ermelo was always been either the winner or the runner-up in the schools league of the old South Eastern Transvaal, now Mpumalanga. In 1998 Hoërskool Ermelo beat HTS Middelburg to win this league.
Out a total of 350 boys in the school, Hoërskool Ermelo manages to put 14 teams into the league which compete against much bigger schools.
The school has an excellent hisgtory of its rugby - Die Rugbysage van die Hoërskool Ermelo, written by Heinrich Schulze and Corrie Kleinhaus.
In the old South Eastern Transvaal the big battle was between Ermelo and Hoogenhout of Bethal. This has changed with time and now Nelspruit HS and HTS Middelburg have become tough opponents. Since 1998 Erries have dared to take on the might of Affies and Waterkloof.
Famous old boys are Dr Ernst Dinkelmann, a Springbok lock in the Fifties, Barry Schmidt, a Junior Springbok, and Pierre Spies, the flying Northern Transvaal and Gazelle wing. The next Springbok was the flank Johan Wasserman. One of the most promising of recent players is flyhalf and capatian Nel Fourie.
Special mention should be made of Norman Celliers, the head prefect of the school in 1991, who went to Stellenbosch after school and at present at Oxford. In 1999 he captained Oxford to victory over Cambridge in the Varsity Match at Twickenham, after Cambridge had enjoyed five successive victories.
The most recent star is speedy Henno Mentz of the Sharks. The Mentzes are a great Ermelo family. Grandfather Moolman played for the school in 1943. Another modern Erries rugby family is the Van der Walts, all four of whom have played provincial rugby. Danie, Nicky and James played for SA Schools. Dons played SA Under-21. The De Jagers are another great Erries rugby family. The most recent was Wilhelm who played for SA Schools in 2002.