Glenwood High School may not have had the physical stature of some of the schools they squared up to this season, but this did not stop them from picking up KwaZulu-Natal's Traditional Rugby School's award for the fourth consecutive time.
Along the way to the award, Glenwood savoured two fantastic victories over traditional rivals Maritzburg College, while giving competitive displays to the more traditional schools' rugby powerhouses like Paul Roos, Paarl Gim, Affies and Grey College.
Director of rugby and head coach for the "Green Machine," Sean Erasmus admits that his side is a young one, and that they aren't the physical specimens of Glenwood sides of the past but they more than made up for their size with their pride and determination.
"You have a team for a maximum of two years. Within that time the team is always changing, as boys leave in Matric and youngsters come in or due to injuries. This year, our First XV is pretty young with a few older heads. The side has a pleasant mix with some having played together in age group rugby, but the team has not been the same throughout," the director told classicclashes.co.za.
"In comparison to previous years, this Glenwood team is physically smaller than the others but their hearts were massive."
The side's courage was ably demonstrated in the first match they played against local rival, Maritzburg College. Trailing by 15 points at the break, Glenwood rallied to win the game 31-30, and it's a win that Glenwood's coach is very proud of.
"It's hard to isolate certain moments, as all the games were memorable for certain reasons but the tight win against Maritzburg College on their Old Boys day, when we came back in the second-half from a 15 point deficit, is a great rugby memory," the coach said.
The foundations for the side's success this season were laid down long before any of the players took to the field.
"The boys just wanted to approach each game on its own merit and play better as each game passed. We also said that we would like to remain in the top 20 SA Schools and be the team of choice in KwaZulu Natal."
The side though was motivated by more than just the goals they set for the season. The school has a proud rugby tradition, and each player is keen to uphold their school's rugby pride.
Erasmus said: "We are very proud of our traditions and do what we have to, to maintain them. Each player that plays for the 'Green Machine' buys into those values and respects our history as a school and team. Our first team motto is 'The legacy you face is more intimidating than any opposition you face.'
But with the traditions come great expectations, and the Glenwood side of 2011 seem to have taken up the challenge well.
"The boys are mentally tough and see the expectations as positive challenges and goals rather than pressures. I think the results we have had this season reflect how we coped with the different pressures," the coach explained.
While the coach is happy with the results his charges have achieved this season, he is also proud of the way they have conducted themselves in their campaign, despite the humbling defeats to Affies and Grey College, teams that they wanted to play well against. The coach was also impressed by his side's fighting spirit.
"The fact that they never gave up and they were never defeated even when they lost, really impressed me. I was super proud when I saw how they gave everything they had at practice and then rose above all expectations on match day."
Erasmus, though, is already looking forward to next season as he plots Glenwood's way another stellar season.
"Every year we set new goals and aim for higher honours. Locally, we have been nominated as the top KwaZulu Natal Traditional School for the fourth year running and therefore we'll work hard to stay on top in the domestic league. But the boys want to take Glenwood to newer heights each year."
Sean Erasmus profiles Glenwood's First XV:
1. Niel Oelofse (captain): "Chippy," as he is known by his peers, is a dynamic loosehead that offers great ball carrying options in attack. He is explosive and mobile and possesses good skills. Niel has been a great leader who has lead by the way that he plays and a "never say die" attitude. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
2. Jaques Taylor: For a flank that was only converted to a hooker this year, Jaques has done extremely well. He initially struggled with his line-out throwing but hard work and determination fixed that. Jaques is a powerful ball carrier and he was part of many great tries scored this year. His pace allowed him to get around the field and make important tackles and line breaks. He is a strong hooker that likes the physical aspect of the game (as all good hookers should). All round good player with a lot of ability. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
3. Sanele Pina: Pina can play all three positions in the front row which adds huge benefits to the team. He is a hard worker and you will always find him near the contact area. He is a hard worker who has put a lot of effort into his off-season training. It will be exciting to see what he will do in this off-season for next year's season. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
4. Ferdi Horn: Ferdi has a natural feel for the flow of the game and will pop up in the right places. His future position must be as a blindside flank. He is a good line-out jumper and ball carrier. With hard work Ferdi is a player for the future. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
5. Bradley Mcneill: Brad has a lot of rugby in him and it was great working with him. As a water polo player he brings good aerial skills to the team and he was one of our main line-out jumpers for the season. Brad came into the team due to an injury and never left. He is fit, dynamic and a very committed team player. An intelligent rugby player. Brad will be a good flank for the future. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Team.
6. Brian Potgieter: When I think of Brian, I think of Springbok World Cup winner Ruben Kruger. A hard worker that you only see at half-time and after the game because during it he is always in the thick of things. Brian is a solid rugby player with no frills, just heart. He plays his heart out each game for the team. A solid defender and ball fetcher.
7. Wayne Dalton: Wayne worked hard in the off season and was one of the team's strike runners. When he maintains focus he can break any defensive lines. I think he can be a great hooker in the future. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Team.
8. Carel Swart: A young lock that was converted to a No.8. Carel did very well to quickly fit into his new role of eighthman. He has the ability to play back if need be and support the back three. He is quick and strong on his feet and attacks well from the base. His agility and skills were noticed early and he has been part of the SA Schools Sevens set up that is competing in the Commonwealth Youth Games. I look forward to working with him next year. Played Craven Week for KwaZulu Natal and made the SA Commonwealth Youth Games Team rugby sevens side.
9. Mtokosisi Mkhabela: A well-rounded scrumhalf with an educated left boot from the base. Mkhabela understands quick and slow ball and has developed his shape of nine attack. He has a strong pass and fulfills his primary basic functions very well at scrumhalf. He is in grade 11 this year. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Week side and SA Academy Team.
10. Unathi Makasi: Unathi is an attacking flyhalf that likes to take the ball flat and hard. His all-round game is good but needs to work on his kicking game. He has developed a great deal and I believe he can still get better for next year. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy side.
11. Siyabonga Tom: Siyabonga has been playing first team since grade 10, a huge success story, especially considering that he only started to play rugby in Grade 9. Tom is level-headed and a very mature young man, taking all the responsibilities in his stride. He did a lot of the goal kicking for the team in the last two years. He needs to keep working on his evasive skills and speed work as every wing can never do enough of that. He is a very good player that has gained much experience from representing different provincial and national age group teams. He will be very important to the team next year. Played Craven Week for KwaZulu Natal, selected for the SA Schools side, SA Commonwealth Youth Games squad and Sharks Under-19 Currie Cup side.
12. Dean Moolman: The team nicknamed him "Blade" because of his fierce and fearless tackling. He has perfect timing and technique. Dean is a talented player and has all the skills and attributes to go further with rugby. He was one of the team leaders this year and added a lot of value to team ethos and planning. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
13. Nkululeko Marwana: Nkululeko runs good lines and creates great space for the outside backs. He is a smooth runner and strong defender. His experience will be priceless to the team next year. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
14. Craig Geldenhuys: He is a big strong wing that is best suited for the big physical match ups because he likes the collision points. Craig developed throughout the year and also started stepping into space and creating momentum on attack. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy side.
14. Dylan Coulson: An outside centre that we moved to wing with great success. Coulson scored a hat-trick of tries in the tight Glenwood/Maritzburg College derby game to bring us back in the game. He has great vision and will just keep getting better as time goes on. His role will be huge in next year's team. His pace and evasive skills make him a great all rounder that can play anywhere in the backline.
15. Lwandile Nthlangulela: A true ball player with immense talent, not only in rugby but also a great cricketer and hockey player. "Blitz" runs amazing lines in attack and will always find and attack space. His ability to communicate from the back makes him a great fullback. He is quick and very accurate and will punish kicks from the back. made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Team.
Players that contributed to the team of 2011
Matthew Worral Clare: Tighthead that struggled with injuries early in the season. Strong at scrumming time, will be good for the team in 2012. Made the KwaZulu Natal Craven Week side.
Devin Osbourne: Came into the team for injured Taylor at hooker. Accurate at line-out time and has a high work rate in the loose.
Francis Weitz: Worked so hard in the off season but struggled for most of the year with a back injury. A Bakkies Botha-type lock that likes the hard work at ruck time.
Sihle Ngxabi: A young lock that will mature in 2012 as he gets his chance to solidify his spot in the First XV. Sihle is a strong young man who will mature with experience. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Team.
Jaques Meintjes: Jaques has been in and out of the First XV this year and as he continues to grow in his role as openside flank, I believe he will remain more consistent in the team. Jaques has loads of potential and is a very skilled player. We look forward to a great year with him in 2012.
Vusi Mtembu: A very powerful openside flank that lives on turnover ball at tackle time. Vusi will be an integral part of the team in 2012. He is powerful and quick to pounce on any loose ball. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Team
Marlu Gouws: Marlu is a young eighthman with lots of talent. He played for the first team and never disappointed. As he continues to learn, he gets better and better. We look forward to a big year in 2012.
Jarryd Terblanche: A solid scrummager at loosehead. Jarryd struggled with injury after the first team's pre-season tours. He is a solid individual that gives everything when he plays. Recently played at club level and it was great to see him excel there.
Heino Beneke: Heino was the starting scrumhalf for the first team but sustained a bad shoulder injury that kept him out of the season right to the end. He is tough and stands back for no one. A great prospect for 2012.
Josh Fourie: The second team scrumhalf has a lot of ability and I look forward to watching him grow as he leaves school. Josh is a intelligent player that reads the game well and is not afraid to take a chance.
Simphiwe Jeffery Shezi: Jeff played as starting flyhalf and then went on to move between scrumhalf, flyhalf and wing in the first team. Jeff regained his place in the first team at the end of the year on the wing and did very well. He is solid and a hard worker. As head boy of the school he oozes natural leadership and this was so important to the team. Jeff went on all the tours with the team and was an integral part of this year's success on and off the field. Made the KwaZulu Natal Academy Team.
Warren Potgieter: Joined Glenwood late in the year and stepped in at flyhalf for injured Makasi. Warren is a great tactical kicker and has the ability to keep teams pinned in their own half. We look forward to seeing and working more with Warren in 2012. Made the Falcons' Craven Week side.
Xolani Ngeleka: A very quick wing that identifies space. Xolani played for the first and second team at wing and fullback and did very well in both positions.
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