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Recap of the final day of the 2023 World Schools Festival

By Willem Louw , in Rugby | Featured Rugby | News , at 2023-12-17 Tags: , ,

PHOTO: World Schools Festival

The 2023 World Schools Festival trophy will return to New Zealand for a second year in succession after Westlake Boys emulated Hamilton’s performance at the previous event.

They beat St Michael’s from Ireland 28-21 in Sunday’s final, after almost not progressing beyond the first round when they drew against Hartpury College from England. The tournament rules stipulated, though, that in the case of a draw the team that scored first would be declared the winner, and so they moved on.

Westlake beat Dr EG Jansen in the semis (25-16), while St Michael’s got the better of Oakdale (17-12) to reach the final at the Pattanna Sports Resort in Thailand.

The first try of the main event came after 11 minutes when the Kiwi flanker, Travis Findlay, handed off a defender and stormed over to give Westlake the lead.

In the first 30 minutes, St Michael’s was starved of opportunities, but they finally broke through in the second half, with Myles Berman dotting down.

When Berman got his second, with 20 minutes left to play, there was a marked shift in the momentum, but Westlake retook the lead through an exhilarating score by Jarlon Lesatele.

The two New Zealand Schools’ players in the Westlake side, captain James Cameron (centre) and Isaac Murray-Macgregor (fullback), both featured prominently for their team throughout the match.

With 10 minutes to play, the St Michael’s hooker, Duinn Maguire, made it a seven-point game, but a couple of missed opportunities meant that the Irish were unable to close the gap.

After deliberations between the teams and organisers, it was decided to shuffle the final day’s fixtures, to allow teams to play against international opponents, rather than EG Jansen and Oakdale playing for third, while Eton and Hartpury battled it out for fifth.

When Hartpury and EG Jansen met at the Kearsney Easter Festival earlier in the year, they shared a 28-28 draw, so this presented the sides with a golden opportunity to play a decider.

The rematch lived up to the expectations set by their first encounter.

After the dynamic Craven Week hooker, Danré Pike, showed off his sharp handling skills to send his winger Cameron van Wyk over for the opening try, the English responded immediately through Harry Tovey, who muscled over to open Hartpury’s account.

The Harpury forwards then drove big Ellis Allen over the line just before halftime to take a 12-5 lead into the break.

Early on in the second half, however, the Boksburg boys took back the control of the contest through two quickfire tries from Matthew Bergman (flyhalf) and their SA u19 Sevens star Jeandré Jacobs (centre).

Zade-Leigh Rippenaar, who also represented the Falcons at the Craven Week at eighth man, was industrious at the breakdown and made life difficult for Hartpury but the rest of the match was an arm wrestle.

With much of the play taking place inside EG Jansen’s half in the final 10 minutes, the Boksburgers had to defend their three-point advantage for dear life as wave upon wave of Hartpury attacks smashed against the EG Jansen defensive line.

After the regulation time had elapsed, the English team declined a penalty opportunity in front of the posts, not content to settle for another draw. It took every ounce of energy left in the EG Jansen boys to defend three more lineouts before they finally bundled a driving maul into touch to bring an end to the match and secure an epic victory in their final outing.

In the second last game of the day, it took less than three minutes for Sine Mdlankomo (hooker) to burst over the line for Oakdale as they took on the renowned Eton College. He made it a brace 10 minutes later when Eton lost the ball under pressure on their throw-in.

Two more tries in quick succession before halftime by their captain Kurt Coetzee and Ruhan Swart seemed to knock the wind out of the Eton boys, but they did well to regroup and get on the board just before the break.

Hunter Deane-Johns, the big loosehead prop from the London Irish Academy, dropped his shoulder and carried the ball right up to the Oakdale try line before Erik Estienne was able to burrow over.

The boys from Riversdal worked the ball around effectively in the second half, but a brilliant bit of athleticism by Isaak Manuel saw him sprint the length of the field to reduce the deficit further.

Oakdale’s only try in the second stanza came via winger Lee-Winn Pretorius, who left the Eton defenders grasping at air as he crossed the whitewash to seal the deal for his side.

In the Open Tournament final on Saturday, the South African Southern Legion team maintained their unblemished record with a 15-7 victory over the Rugby Travel Academy squad.

Dehan Neethling (fullback), from Stellenberg, was a standout player for the invitational squad, crossing for tries in every game his side played during the competition. They thumped the Dubai Tigers by 50-3 and the Odyssey Knights by 55-14 on their way to the final before seeing off their fellow South Africans to claim the title.

Other standouts for the Open champions were Durbanville’s Lian Jordaan (centre) and Happy Makate (flank).



St Michael’s 21 (0) – Tries: Myles Berman (2), Duinn Maguire. Conversions: Joe Quigley (3). Westlake Boys 28 (14) – Tries: Travis Findlay, Brooklyn Pohio, James Cameron, Jarlon Lesatele. Conversions: Isaac Murray-Macgregor (2), Tyler Pulini

Oakdale 33 (26) – Tries: Sine Mdlankomo (2), Ruan Swart, Kurt Coetzee, Lee-Winn Pretorius. Conversions: Kurt Coetzee (4) Eton College 14 (7) – Tries: Erik Estienne, Izaak Manuel. Conversions: Benji Bushnell (2)

EG Jansen 15 (5) – Tries: Cameron van Wyk, Matthew Bergman, Jeandré Jacobs. Hartpury 12 (12) – Tries: Harry Tovey, Ellis Allen. Conversions: Steff Jac Jones.

Cardiff & Vale 21 (21) – Tries: Kian Williams (2), Fin Hart. Conversions: Tom Hughes (3) Rugby Travel Academy 12 (0) – Tries: Raynard van Loggenberg (2). Conversions: Jayden de Leeuw


Southern Legion 15 (12) – Tries: Desmond Milner, Dehan Neethling. Conversion: Armand Griessel. Penalty: Griessel.  RTA Barbarians 7 (7) – Try: Pieter Moller. Conversion: Jaedon de Leeuw.

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