Kearsney Launches Easter Festival
Hailed as one of the country’s favourite schoolboy rugby festivals, the 12th annual Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival was launched on Tuesday 19 February 2019.
The Festival promises rugby enthusiasts exciting running rugby from some of the country’s top rugby-playing schools over Easter weekend, whilst offering participating players opportunities to secure a possible future in provincial and national rugby.
Twelve South African school teams renowned for their rugby pedigree will participate over three play days – Thursday 18, Saturday 20 and Monday 22 April – on the beautiful Kearsney College campus in Botha’s Hill, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
This year Hoërskool Transvalia from Gauteng will participate for the first time. They will join Pretoria Boys High, Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen, HTS Middelburg and Welkom Gimnasium from Gauteng; the Eastern Cape’s Selborne College (East London) and Hoërskool Framesby (Port Elizabeth); HTS Drostdy from Worcester in the Western Cape and Hoërskool Noord-Kaap (Kimberley); as well as Glenwood High School, Durban High School and hosts Kearsney College from KwaZulu-Natal.
The festival promises a celebration of highly entertaining action, with six 1st XV fixtures daily. Kicking off each day’s rugby will be a match between primary school teams Highbury Preparatory, Hillcrest Primary, Umhlali Preparatory and the KZNRU Ibutho/Mark Godefroy Under-13 development team.
Etienne Fynn, managing director of the Sharks Academy, said the festival provided players with an ideal platform from which to demonstrate their abilities. For many players it is the culmination of years of training, aimed toward representing their 1st XV with pride and passion.
It also provided spectators with the opportunity to watch players who could become household names in a couple of seasons, he said.
“The Sharks Academy takes pride in being associated once again with the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival as the format and calibre of players, along with the spectacular venue, ensure quality fixtures take place year on year. We have had memorable games taking place between non- traditional rivals – this epitomises what the festival has brought to the KwaZulu-Natal and South African Easter festival landscape.”
Fynn confirmed the Sharks Academy would again offer bursaries to three selected players after the festival’s final game. These bursaries include a contract with the Academy, accommodation and a tuition bursary with one of its education partners.
Since the first Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival in 2008, many festival players have been selected for Varsity Cup and Under-21 sides, provincial Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams, Springboks and SA Sevens; overseas club and provincial sides such as Western Force (Australia), Ealing and Sale Sharks (England), Munster (Ireland), La Rochelle and Montpellier (both France); as well as for the Barbarians, Scotland, British and Irish Lions, Germany and Western Australia Sevens.
A recent festival player, who is already shining at provincial level, is Dale College speedster Aphelele Fassi, whose talent was noticed at the festival in 2016 and 2017, when he was awarded a bursary to the Sharks Academy. The fullback debuted for the Sharks in their Super Rugby win against the Sunwolves in Singapore last Saturday (16 February).
Western Province flyhalf David Coetzer, who played for Selborne College at the festival during the same years as Fassi, received a call up for the Junior Boks team last year.
Other recent festival players such as JJ van der Mescht and Conan le Fleur (Glenwood), Dylan Richardson and Sibusiso Sangweni (both Kearsney), Sibabalwe Xamlashe and Thomas Bursey (both Selborne College) were selected for the Under-18 and Under-19 Junior Bok camps last year.
Speaking at this week’s launch, Kearsney College headmaster Elwyn van den Aardweg said the school was preparing to welcome the capacity crowds which the event always attracts.
“The festival is a perfect destination for schoolboy rugby enthusiasts from across the country. Durban, with its exciting holiday attractions and wonderful Easter-time weather, and Kearsney, situated on the most beautiful campus, combine to ensure a fun-filled weekend of savouring the best of schoolboy rugby with family and friends and enjoying the wonderful festival atmosphere,” he said.
Van den Aardweg thanked the festival sponsors, whose valued support had enabled the festival to grow over the years. Standard Bank remained as headline sponsor with Halfway Ford and Hendok also being involved again, the Sharks and Sharks Academy continuing their support since the festival’s inception, and with two new sponsors coming on board – MTN and Coopertires. Busamed and Marsh Africa will be the festival’s medical sponsor, together with several other partners and companies.
As festival title sponsor and the school’s banking partner for the past 22 years, a spokesperson for Standard Bank said they were proud to be associated with the Standard Bank Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival once again, and wished Kearsney College a successful and exciting 2019 event.
For the third year, Halfway Ford is a festival sponsor. Halfway Group CEO George Baikie said that, as a Kearsney old boy, the festival brought wonderful memories of his time spent at the College. Whilst Halfway had grown into one of the largest privately-owned motor dealership groups in Africa, it was motivated by a passion for customer service, with the belief that customers preferred to buy from local people they liked and trusted.
First time sponsor MTN South Africa’s regional general manager, Ernest Galelekile, said the company was a long-time supporter of sports. “Sponsorship of the festival further entrenches our position as ardent supporters of the country’s sporting ambitions; and enables us to connect with our future leaders – the youth.”
Georg Schramm, CEO of TyreLife Solutions, said they were proud of the association with the festival. “Like those who participate in the tournament, our products are strongly associated with the highest performance, driven to succeed in the toughest conditions and constantly pushing the limits to excel,” he said.
Festival director Mouton Badenhorst emphasised the strong family focus of the event, offering something for the whole family. This year’s festival will again feature the popular KidZone, offering a number of exciting rides and jumping castles for the little ones to enjoy.
Participating players and the public are requested to leave new or good condition second-hand rugby kit and clothing in designated collection bins at the main field. The ‘Boots and Balls’ outreach initiative, started in 2015, will ensure all donated kit is sorted, refurbished and distributed. It will be divided between the local Reservoir Rhino Rugby Club and the KZNRU Development Programme for distribution to development teams throughout the province.
Gate entrance to the festival is R25 per person. Ample secure parking will be available; as well as food and refreshment outlets for those wanting to enjoy a full day of entertaining rugby in a family-friendly environment.
By Sue Miles of Working Words
Kearsney Festival Fixtures 2019
Day 1: Thursday, 18 April 2019
08.30: Umhlali Prep School vs KZN Ibutho / Mark Godefroy Under-13
09.30: Kearsney College vs Pretoria Boys High School
10.45: Hoërskool Framesby vs Welkom Gimnasium
12.00: Selborne College vs Hoërskool Noord Kaap
13.15: HTS Middelburg vs HTS Drostdy
14.30: Glenwood High School vs Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen
15.45: Durban High School vs Hoërskool Transvalia
Day 2: Saturday, 20 April 2019
08.30: Hillcrest Primary School vs KZN Ibutho / Mark Godefroy Under-13
09.30: Hoërskool Noord-Kaap vs HTS Middelburg
10.45: Hoërskool Transvalia vs Pretoria Boys High School
12.00: Kearsney College vs Hoërskool Framesby
13.15: Welkom Gimnasium vs HTS Drostdy
14.30: Durban High School vs Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen
15.45: Selborne College vs Glenwood High School
Day 3: Monday, 22 April 2019
08.30: Highbury Preparatory vs KZN Ibutho / Mark Godefroy Under-13
09.30: Hoërskool Noord-Kaap vs Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen
10.45: HTS Middelburg vs Pretoria Boys High School
12.00: Selborne College vs Hoërskool Framesby
13.15: Durban High School vs HTS Drostdy
14.30: Glenwood High School vs Hoërskool Transvalia
15.45: Kearsney College vs Welkom Gimnasium