Paarl derby the biggest on earth
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.”