Tue 17 Aug 2004 | 12:00


Tue 17 Aug 2004 | 12:00

We profile Adelaide Gymnasium of the Eastern Cape.

The wooded Amatola Mountains are so beautiful but its hard to think of them as battlegrounds, and yet they were. The San and the Khoikhoi fought there, then the Khoikhoi and the Xhosa, then the Xhosa and the British, and then the British and the Boers.

It is an area steeped in history from San to Settler, but it is now much more than that – a great place to hike, climb, fish, kayak, farm and simply enjoy the beauty.

It is the area which inspired JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit.

The Xhosa and the British fought for a hundred years from 1780 and many of the towns in the area started as garrison towns.

Adelaide on the Koonaap River, 180 km from East London and 230 km from Port Elizabeth, was one of them, founded by Scots living in the Kat River Valley near the site of the town. They named it after Queen Adelaide, the wife of William IV, whose name is preserved in King William's Town, not too far away. William IV was the monarch before Victoria. The obvious symbol of the Scottish foundation is the Presbyterian Church, a national heritage site, built on Glenthorn Farm.

In the War of Mlanjeni (1850-53), a tough Frontier War, Adelaide became important, especially during the Battle of the Waterkloof which lasted for two years.

During the second South African War the town was overrun and occupied by the Boer commando led by General Jan Smuts.

Apart from history and the wonderful mountains there are also the game reserves of Mpofu and Tsolwana, and the Kat River Valley.


Three schools amalgamated in 1978 to form Adelaide Gymnasium whose pupils are nicknamed Kwaggas – the Adelaide Hoërskool, Hoër Huishoudskool (for girls only) and the Piet Retief Hoër Tegniese Skool (boys only). The school was then called Hoërskool Piet Retief. In 1993 the name was changed to Adelaide Gymnasium, which was the original choice of name for the school.

Piet Retief, the famous Voortrekker leader, was from Grahamstown but he had a half-way house near Adelaide, out on the Tarkastad Road.

The school has two boarding hostels – Van Wyk House for 250 boys and Gideon van de Vyver House for 150 girls. It is a dual medium school, teaching done in both English and Afrikaans, a comprehensive school offering academic and technical subjects. It draws pupils from all over the Eastern Cape.

The school has a proud record of outstanding academic results, sound sports coaching and a variety of cultural activities. Each year a number of pupils win provincial colours in a variety of sporting codes, including rugby, cricket, athletics, netball, biathlon, swimming, tennis and hockey.

School information

Name: Adelaide Gimnasium/Gymnasium
Motto: Orando labordando perficimus (We get things right by prayer and effort), an adaptation of the Benedictine motto.
Badge: The school's badge combines the symbols of the three original schools.
Number of pupils: 450
Number of rugby teams: 6


The school is keen on its rugby and, like all country schools, travels a great deal for matches, for example against Winterberg in Fort Beaufort, Gill College in Somerset east, Marlow in Cradock, Cradock High School and Burgersdorp High.

Each year it takes part in the Despatch weekend, where it drew with the strong Uitenhage school HTS Daniël Pienaar and undertakes tours.

The principal of the school, Jan Stroebel, was for a number of years a top referee and the chairman of the Border Referees' Society. In one year the No.1, No.3 and No.5 Border referees were from Adelaide.

Fred Every, the 1st XV coach, has been the assistant coach of the Eastern Province Craven Week side for two years.

The stand, opened by Doc Craven, seats some 500 spectators.

Opportunities for boys to go to Craven Week have been reduced with the disappearance of North Eastern Cape as a province and the subbasement reduction of Craven Week teams from 36 in 1989 to 18 in 2004, including Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Nobody from Adelaide went to Craven Week in 2003 and 2004. Adelaide Gymnasium players its sport under the Eastern Provuince banner.

Rugby Old Boys

The school has produce two Springbok props, two of the strongest, both of whom played in the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final – Os du Randt, one of the greatest of all time, and Garry Pagel, back farming in the area. When the final whistle blew at Ellis Park in 1995 both Pagel and Du Randt were on the field. The third Springbok Old Boy is Anton Leonard, captain of the Bulls and the Blue Bulls. He was the head boy of the school in 1993.

Os du Randt and Garry Pagel played for North Eastern Cape at Craven Week. Os du Randt played for SA Schools in 1990 while other players Barry McDonald in 1995 and 1996 and Elroy Snayers in 1995 have also been chosen for SA Schools teams.

Several other players have played for North Eastern Cape, Eastern Province Country and Eastern Province itself.

Faan Bekker and Os du Randt for Free State and Anton Leonard for the eagles and then the Blue Bulls played Currie Cup rugby.


The annual Interschools against Hoër Landbouskool Winterberg, called the Apies, is a highlight on the calendar. This year will be the 12th such occasion. So far Adelaide have won six times and lost five times.

Matches between Winterberg and Adelaide Gymnasium down the years

1993: Adelaide won 18-6
1994: Winterberg won 22-6
1995: Winterberg won 22-6
1996: Adelaide won 20-17
1997: Winterberg won 20-15
1998: Winterberg won 13-0
1999: Adelaide won 12-0
2000: Winterberg won 30-17
2001: Adelaide won 12-11
2002: Adelaide won 25-15
2003: Adelaide won 18-10

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Adelaide Gimnasium | Rugby365