Paarl derby the big­gest on earth

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE DE BRUYN

AN in­ter-schools rugby derby at the Faure Street Sta­dium to­day fea­tures two world-class first XVs and the re­sult could go ei­ther way.

The West­ern Province Un­der19A Premier League match be­tween Paarl Gym­na­sium and Paarl Boys kicks off at 4pm and can be seen life on Su­perS­port.

Will it be Paarl Boys – the lead­ing team in the coun­try since 2015 – to the fore again in the 101st edi­tion as has been the case for the past two years, or can clos­est ri­vals Paarl Gym­na­sium pre­vail again in what is the big­gest game in the world at this level.

Ei­ther way it’s go­ing to be a clas­sic 70-minute en­counter be­tween arch-ri­vals who an­nu­ally bat­tle it out for brag­ging rights.

The two Boland Schools supplied 10 boys to rep­re­sent WP at Craven Week last month, four of whom made it into the SA Schools team.

They are Muller du Plessis ( wing – Paarl Gym­na­sium), Adrian Al­berts (lock – Paarl Boys’ High), Vian Fourie ( flank – Paarl Boys) and Hen­drik Martins (flank – Paarl Gym).

Paarl Boys haven’t had their colours low­ered for close on three years now and, after 14 straight wins this sea­son, are 55-0 against all-comers.

Paarl Gym be­gan the sea­son well and, after win­ning six on the bounce, topped the un­of­fi­cial na­tional rank­ing, but they were crushed by Grey Col­lege and then lost to SACS and Boland Land­bou.

No doubt the pres­sure is on them to suc­ceed for the first time since claim­ing four wins on the trot in 2014.

And plenty of pres­sure there is on both camps; the town is split down the mid­dle voic­ing al­le­giances dur­ing the week-long build-up to the match.

And the old boys present from all parts of the coun­try add to the oc­ca­sion and would hate to see a negative out­come.

While it can be a tough sit­u­a­tion to han­dle, you can bet the play­ers se­lected will be a proud lot.

It will be a test of char­ac­ter in more ways than one for them now.

“This is a game that de­cides a sea­son,” said Gym’s coach, for­mer Spring­bok Pi­eter Ros­souw, who took over the reins last year.

“Such a pres­sure af­fair and nei­ther team wants to end up on the wrong side of the re­sult. There’s a 20 000-strong crowd in at­ten­dance and that alone is a lot for the boys to han­dle. Hav­ing said that, it’s the game they all want to be part of.

“Let me say that our op­po­nents are the favourites based on this sea­son’s form. It’s a tag we don’t want, but we will be chas­ing a win.”

His coun­ter­part, Sean Eras­mus, is look­ing for­ward to the clash.

“It’s a huge fix­ture and one we’re proud to be a part of. All re­spect to Gym, they’re a fine rugby school and like us play the game the way it’s meant to be played.

“I’m not go­ing to make pre­dic­tions other than to say my boys are rar­ing to go and want their win­ning run to stay in­tact.”

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