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Exciting tweaks for 2024 Graeme Rugby Festival

By Brad Morgan , in Rugby | News , at 2023-12-05 Tags:

Graeme College have tweaked the format of their annual rugby festival for 2024, but it, as always, still offers up a series of mouth-watering clashes to herald the start of the schools season next year.

What was once the Graeme Rugby Day, played over a Saturday in mid-March, has become a multi-day festival of the sport, providing the perfect platform for Eastern Cape teams to gauge their status for the forthcoming season.

The 2024 festival takes place from 14-16 March in Makhanda, but the region’s first teams will be in action only on Friday and Saturday (15-16 March).

Graeme 1st XV coach and festival organiser Jonty van der Meulen explained the format in a statement on Monday.

“Initially we planned to run the festival on the same lines as 2023, where we split the first team matches over three days, and some teams played twice,” he said.

“But it then came to light that Bishops are holding a festival to celebrate their 175th anniversary, the next weekend, and there is also the North-South Tournament that weekend.

“That is followed by the annual Easter festivals around the country and many of the teams were a little concerned at having too heavy a workload at this stage of the season.

“So, what we have done, is to provide the first teams with just one game each, playing on the Friday and Saturday.

“But we will still have three days of rugby because the age-group matches (from u14 to u16) will take place on Thursday and Friday on the Somerset and Marais fields.

“We have done this because of the u13 festival on the Saturday, which will take place on the Marais fields.”

Even with a slightly abbreviated programme, the festival will still deliver an exciting start to the season, with all of the Eastern Cape’s top schools in action. A number of fascinating contests catch the eye.

As is their way, Graeme have not shied away from setting themselves a proper challenge and they will wind up the festival against the always powerful Selborne College on the Saturday afternoon.

In fact, that match is a repeat of the finale to the 2022 Rugby Day, when the teams played to a 7-7 stalemate. No doubt, both will be motivated to complete unfinished business when their March date rolls around.

The first team matches on Friday throw up some intriguing encounters, finishing off with a clash between Grey High and East London’s Hudson Park, which was also on the 2022 programme.

On that occasion, the Gqeberha school enjoyed a 27-7 win, but the rematch presents a golden opportunity for Hudson Park to make a statement against one of the region’s perennial powers.

In the build-up to that match, Kingswood and Marlow have all the ingredients for a serious showdown, while running rugby will be the main drawcard of the clash between Dale and Nico Malan.

After a good 2023 season, Queen’s will be aiming for a positive start to 2024 against Pearson in a Saturday clash, while St Andrew’s and Brandwag should deliver a proper arm-wrestle in the main curtain-raiser.

FIXTURES

15 March, Somerset Field

09:00: Graeme 2nd v Port Alfred High 1st; 10.30: Port Rex v Mary Waters; 11.45: Union High v
Daniel Pienaar; 13:00: Kingswood v Marlow; 14:15: Dale v Nico Malan; 15:30: Grey High v
Hudson Park

16 March, Somerset Field
10.30: Cambridge v Muir; 11.45: Stirling v Framesby; 13:00: Queen’s v Pearson; 14:15: St Andrew’s v Brandwag; 15:30: Graeme v Selborne

Age-Group Fixtures

14 March, Somerset Field

09:00: Graeme u14A v Selborne; 10:00: Mary Waters u15A v Port Alfred; 11:00: Graeme u15A
v Selborne; 12.00: Pearson u16A v Port Rex; 13:00: Brandwag u16A v Cambridge; 14:00: Stirling u16A v Muir; 15:00: Graeme u16A v Selborne

14 March, Marais A Field

10am: Brandwag u14A v Cambridge; 11:00: Stirling u14A v Muir; 12:00: Stirling u15A v Muir; 13:00: Pearson u14A v Port Rex; 14:00: Brandwag u15A v Cambridge; 15:00: Pearson u15A v Port Rex

15 March, Marais A Field

09:00: Nico Malan u14A v Dale; 10:00: Kingswood u15A v Marlow; 11:00: Nico Malan u16A v
Dale; 12:00: Union High u16A v Daniel Pienaar; 13:00: Queen’s u14A v Framesby; 14:00:
Queen’s u16A v Framesby

15 March, Marais B Field

09:00: Union High u14A v Daniel Pienaar; 10:00: Nico Malan u15A v Dale; 11:00: Kingswood
u14A v Marlow; 12:00: Union High u15A v Daniel Pienaar; 13:00: Queen’s u15A v Framesby;
14:00: Kingswood u16A v Marlow

error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.