Fairly new, certainly smart, pleasantly leafy Hoërskool Pionier in Vryheid can lay claim to being the top rugby school in Northern Natal, but now suffering from the fading interest in the game in the area.
Vryheid, like Vryburg over in the west, was once the capital of a republic. The Trekkers wanted freedom from British rule and law. They established various republics. One was the Nuwe Republiek in Natal/Zululand. It was established in 1884 with Lucas Meyer as president on land provided by Chief Dinizulu who had been helped by some 800 Boers in his battle for power in Zululand. It did not last long for in 1888 it was incorporated into the South African Republic, aka the Transvaal.
Vryheid is part of that battle zone where Brits fought Zulus, Boers fought Zulus, and Brits fought Boers. At the end of all the fighting, in 1903, Vryheid was incorporated into the District if Utrecht in Natal, now called KwaZulu Natal. The town is a centre for mining and farming in the district.
Hoërskool Pionier was founded in 1876 to provide for those of the Afrikaans-speaking community who wanted a school to attend specifically to their needs. The first headmaster was J Cronje. By 1987 it had had another four principals. The present principal, Tokkie Smit, a wellknown rugby referee, has been the principal since then.
Badge: The tree central to the badge is the freedom's tree which also represents the school's motto. The three-headed flower represents teacher, pupil and parent. The red dagger symbolises readiness for life's battles and the wagon wheels symbolise the pioneering spirit.
Motto: Geloof Lewenskrag Vooruitgang (Faith, Life force, Progress)
Hoërskool Pionier has played a leading role in rugby in Northern Natal, though in recent times the game has suffered as Northern Natal lost its provincial status and then its Craven Week participation.
The school plays rugby only in the second term, about a dozen matches a season against opposition in KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Orange Free State.