Ten powerful South African rugby teams will compete at the 2019 World Schools Festival, with the historic Paul Roos Gymnasium set to play host.
The festival, which made its highly successful debut in Paarl this year, stays in the beautiful Winelands region, but moves a mere 30 kilometres down the road to Stellenbosch. It takes place from 25 to 30 March.
Paul Roos Gymnasium will make its first appearance at the tournament, as will SACS High School, while Grey College, Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies), Monument High School, Glenwood, Paarl Gimnasium, Boland Landbou and Hilton College all return after impressing at this year’s event. Seven of the sides feature in rugby365.com’s Top 20 rankings for 2018, including the top four.
A South African Invitation XV completes the South African contingent of teams that will go up against 10 sides from around the world in a Ryder Cup-style competition across four action packed days in the Cape.
“We can’t wait to host the World Schools Festival next year,” said Paul Roos’ head of sport Stephan Jordaan. “The format of the South African schools playing against the international teams is very exciting. I’ve been at the school for eleven years, and I can’t remember ever having hosted one New Zealand team, but now we have an opportunity to see just how strong the South African schools are as they play against sides from all over the world.”
The local schools dominated matters this year, winning 18 of the 20 matches played against the Rest of the World teams, and they’ll be looking to keep the South African flag flying high when the 2019 tournament kicks off, particularly the new additions to the line-up.
“We weren’t part of this year’s event, and really wanted to get involved,” said Jordaan.
“We looked at the quality of the teams playing and quickly realised we needed to be in the mix. It’s an honour to be playing and hosting.”
Event owners Carinat Sports Marketing were delighted with the interest shown after only one edition, which was the brainchild of former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“When Heyneke first brought up the idea of trying to bring the best schools around the world together, we saw the potential, and wondered why it had never been done before,” said Jon Phelps, founding partner of Carinat Sports Marketing.
“Heyneke is currently coaching French club Stade Francais, but will stay involved as an official ambassador of the festival, and we’re very pleased to keep him on board.”
The addition of the South African Invitation XV is testament to the stature of the tournament, and SARU’s Nico Serfontein, who heads up the organisation’s Elite Player Development programme, described the decision to participate as a ‘no-brainer’.
“When Jon approached us to take part, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Serfontein.
“A few of our players don’t come from the traditional rugby schools, so this is a perfect opportunity to see them in action against powerful foreign schools which they ordinarily wouldn’t face, while at the same time testing our depth as we prepare for the international series in June.”
The invitational team will be made up entirely of schoolboys, while there will also be a strong emphasis on former pupils at the festival, particularly from those schools taking part.
“The festival is quickly earning a reputation as the best global gathering of schoolboy talent, and the Rest of the World line-up is looking very strong,” added Phelps.
“It embodies all that is good about schoolboy rugby, and we will look to grow certain aspects in 2019, especially to have more Old Boys teams playing on the Saturday, which will be the final day of the competition.”
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