The teacher is back. Theo Pieterse is back at Itembelihle, and rugby is starting to blossom once again.
Theo Pieterse, who in his day played for the University of Port Elizabeth, Parks RFC and Eastern Province B, was teaching and coaching rugby at Itembelihle Comprehensive School in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. He started at the school as a history teacher in 1979, spent two years at another school because he was nearing pension and last year, retired from teaching, he came back to rugby at his beloved Itembelihle in New Brighton where boys and girls play rugby.
If ever awards are made for service to the game, Theo Pieterse should be at the front of the queue.
He writes of what has been happening: “Itembelihle rugby is on the rise again. I came back full time again last year  and started rebuilding the team. Last year most of my boys were in grade 10 and we got some big hidings but many lessons were learnt. New players came from King William’s Town and Grahamstown and others from the Northern areas and Motherwell, kids from eight different schools.”
This year things are looking up.
Last week we played Victoria Park in the Kirkwood festival and beat them 33-3. On Friday we took on the formidable Daniël Pienaar team at the Despatch festival. Conditions were wet underfoot and I was worried that it would impede our natural running game. We were also hopelessly outsized – their one centre was bigger than my biggest forward!
The game started with them kicking off and winning the ball and immediately attacking us but we managed to stop their big forwards. A clever kick behind my backline had my wing knocking the ball on, and from the ensuing scrum they attacked but could not come through.
We received a penalty but were penalised at the lineout. They kicked for touch and from the lineout they set up phases and their big flank went over for a converted try.
We came back from the kick off and our rush defence worked as we kept on stopping them behind the advantage line. From a ruck we received a penalty, but centre Lotto Kete’s kick was just wide. Daniël Pienaar surged on the attack again and their flyhalf’s attempted drop goal was wide. They tried to attack from all over but were stopped every time. At half-time they led 7-0.
In the second half, we played against the wind. They dominated the lineouts and stole several if our balls though we also disrupted theirs. From hereon, we tapped every penalty and attacked them. From a ruck on their line big Phumelela du Preez drove well and diminutive scrumhalf Makweila Mnyungula burrowed his way over for an unconverted try. 7-5.
Daniël Pienaar attacked relentlessly but could not break the Itembelihle defence. We nearly scored when we started an attack from our 22 and wing Sbu Zenzile rounded his man and kicked ahead but was held back and we got a penalty. We attacked and came close, with about five minutes to go Daniël Pienaar started stringing phases together and eventually their wing fell over for an unconverted try.
The game was now played at an electrifying pace but no one could score. The final whistle blew and I knew we were back.
We now travel to Graaff-Reinet for the Union High Festival where we take on Paarl Gim Daisies [2nd XV] and Cambridge High. Then it’s on to the Grey festival for games against their Unicorns and Woodridge.
From Theo Pieterse