Here is an unofficial and wholly unbiased overview on the season down south from the perspective of one who managed to fit in 64 First XV games in 2011.
The best form in the big Western Province leagues, so to speak, was shown by Paarl Boys' High, Oakdale, Tygerberg, and Durbanville, but the neutrals' vote for Team of the Year would definitely go to delightful De Kuilen, the real local-boy-makes-good-in-the-big-time story.
Living proof that honest hard work does pay off, these lads won hearts wherever they played.
While Robertson boasted the best record in the Boland, the most attractive rugby came from Dirkie Uys, Hermanus and Schoonspruit.
The Moorreesburg Tigers, with scrumhalf Flippie Jacobs proving to be an effective launching pad for rocket Jason Kriel, kept whoever was lucky enough to see them play on the edge of their seats. The intelligent, well-structured play of Hermanus and Schoonspruit was best illustrated when the two met in the Die Burger semifinal. Needless to say, both flyhalves, the elegant Thomas Bednall and will-o'-the-wisp Ashlon Davids respectively, were integral to their style of play.
Top players of the season? Two props, Ignus Nagel of Boishaai and Heinie Young of Hugenote, both had truly outstanding campaigns in their engine rooms. Among the backs, it was a privilege to be able to watch the sublime talents of Tygerberg's inside centre Justin Geduld, who found himself so cruelly wasted in the No.13 jersey at Craven Week, elusive Bishops flyhalf Tim Swiel and President centre Enver Brandt, who deserved the chance to shred better defences than his opponents provided in the third tier.
Who's there to look out for come next March? Among the loose forwards Hugenote's Larnelle Maralack and Boishaai's Dean Hensley are going to be worth watching, as will Oakdale's tighthead terror Kabous van Schalkwyk. He is - and will be - huge. When it comes to the backs, the blue half of Paarl can't wait to see Jean-Luc du Plessis and Duncan Matthews play alongside one another.
The long season may well have thrown up its heroes and its villains, but it's nice to know that there are some things that personal bias can't change: death, taxes and statistics.
Nationally, Waterkloof is a good place to start. They ran in 141 tries on their way to compiling 937 points in 20 outings, only two of which they lost. In these days of personal landmarks, it's interesting to note that three of their players (François Tredoux , Sean Robinson [125 - all in tries] and Janco Gunter ) passed the century mark, while Ruan Janse van Rensburg fell five short and Duncan Matthews, injured from June on, still had to time to rack up 91! Four and a half guys, 566 points. Wow!
Consider then that Noord-Kaap, who went unbeaten in their eighteen games, could manage only 105 tries en route to 713 points. Flyhalf Kobus du Plessis contributed 204 of those.
Off to Bloem where bootmeister extraordinaire Naudé van Biljon of Jim Fouché scored a remarkable 272 points. So what, huh? Well, his team managed only 73 tries, of which he converted an astonishing 61 - that's a strike rate of which any municipal worker would be proud!
Down south Tygerberg managed 130 tries in their 22 expeditions, flyhalf Dewald Claassen topping the Western Cape charts with 241 points to go with 2010s haul of 177 (He missed several matches last year because of injury). Their 876 points is impressive too, but then they did concede 400. Numbers 11 Nicol Jansen (15), 12 Justin Geduld (20), 13 Edwin Sass (26 - top First XV try-scorer in the country as far as can be ascertained) and 14 Grant Maartins (11) scored 72 of those. And the good news? Well, of the four, only Geduld is leaving school at the end of 2011.
Other big scorers in the Western Cape were Tim Swiel (Bishops, 195), Christiaan Willemse (Oakdale, 187), Rhyno Smith (Boishaai, 184), Ashlon Davids (Schoonspruit, 183) and Porterville's SA Schools tighthead Andrew Beerwinkel with 176.
My trusty computer contains the results and scorers of, I'd venture, pretty well every game played by the sides in both divisions of the Western Province Premier League, the three O's and Langenhoven Gym from SWD and the top 30 Boland outfits. Those schools on my e-mail address list will be receiving a table in which all these sides are arranged purely in order of success % (including tries for and tries against) plus the top Western Cape scorers for 2011.
If you would like a copy, e-mail me at email@example.com. That's about it for the year. Cheers!
By Tony Stoops
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