HOERSKOOL MENLO PARK
Menlo Park was founded in 1963 with 372 pupils from standards 6 to 8. Today, the school has over 1300 pupils. By the end of the school’s first year, the first permanent headmaster, Mr JPL van Zyl, took over from the acting headmaster, Mr Bohmer. In 1973 he was succeeded by Mr Frans Gerber, who was the headmaster until 1980. Mr Fanus Booysen was headmaster from 1980 to 1984. The current headmaster is Dr CIS van der Merwe. The school boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool that was opened in 1972. There are many other areas which Menlo Park is leading the way, from an excellent website to a modern auditorium, and more. It is a school gearing itself and its pupils for the future.
Name: Hoërskool Menlo Park
Pupils: 1300 +
Motto: Excelsa Petamus (Let us pursue the highest values)
Rugby jersey: Blue with white horizontal stripes, white shorts
Rugby at Menlo Park
Menlo Park began with a healthy nine teams that were entered into the local leagues. Louis de Klerk was chosen for the Northern Transvaal Schools ‘A’ team – some early success for the school, but more was to follow. That year Menlo Park beat the established Pretoria Boy’s High School 8-3 in a game in which Boetie Kloppers scored two tries. Menlo Park started touring as early as 1965, when it took a side up to Namibia. After Windhoek, the back of the wheel of the bus fell off, though this was only noticed when team members saw the wheel overtaking the bus!
In 1966, Menlo Park got its first taste of Loftus Versveld, when they played against the visiting Port Natal Afrikaans High School from Durban. But soon enough, in 1967, the school First XV were back on the road touring once more, this time to Cape Town. The party included two mascots and a professional sideline referee. Durbanville High School, Plumstead, and the unbeaten Tygerberg Technical School – who Menlo played against at Newlands – were beaten. A visit was also made to Stellenbosch where Danie Craven gave a few rugby lessons, as well as to Franschoek,where the public confused the Menlo boys, with their blue blazers,for the touring French rugby side.
Johan Marais of the 1981 Springboks is a Menlo Park Old Boy. More recently the school has produced some prominent Boks in the post-isolation years when Jacques Olivier and Rudolph Straeuli were selected for national honours. Olivier played 17 Tests from 1992 to 1996. His son is currently following in his father’s footsteps at the Menlo Park Primary School. Straeuli played 10 Tests altogether, and later coached at the Sharks, where successful Super 12 campaigns saw him promoted to Springbok coach from 2002 to 2003.
Recently, the First XV teams of 2006 and 2007 had great seasons. In 2006, they lost narrowly (by only two points) to Pretoria powerhouse Affies. In 2007 they reached the final of the Michelin Competition, losing to Waterkloof.
Big derbies crowd the Menlo Park fixture list. Foremost of these is the St Alban’s game. The 2007 game was particularly memorable. Menlo Park, down by 11 points in the last two minutes, scored twice to win! In 2008 the FNB Classic Clash was televised. Other regular derbies are Pretoria Boys’ high, John Vorster, Waterkloof and Eldoraigne.
The school’s rugby is in good hands. A vibrant Old Boy union is bringing in more and more support at each game, The school’s coaching foundation is also impressive; Dean van der Watt, who came in from Monument, is the Rugby Director, and Wian van Schalkwyk has been the successful First XV coach for a number of years now.
Johan Marais, Jacques Olivier, Rudolf Straeuli