This Saturday, 4 August, will again dawn on another Premier Interschools match, and arguably the biggest of the lot. Paarl Boys’ High versus Paarl Gimnasium, the Galpille against the Bloedworse and South vs North. This is the time of year when the town of Paarl is divided into the two camps for a whole week.
A rivalry that exists for more than 100 years culminates in the main rugby match between the two schools at the Faure Street Stadium at 4:00pm. The first match was played in 1915 when masters, schoolboys and old boys all played together.
This was the format up to 1927 after which it was decided that the Interschools matches should only comprise of schoolboys. The current format, as we know today, started officially in 1929.
The Interschools was only interrupted for one year in 1928. The intensity of this derby is reflected in the average winning margin in over 100 games of only 5 points.
There are no easily won Interschools games. Each point gained is precious and defence is usually rock solid. There have been 11 drawn matches and three of them ended in a 0-0 draw, the last one in 1986. This shows the commitment and pressure that can build in these games.
During the week there will be functions and re-union get together with old friends and foes reminiscing about the days gone by.
The first battle on the rugby starts on the Wednesday evening as the two Old Boy teams lock horns in what can only be described as a friendly but fierce game. Thursday afternoon sees the “Goffels” and “Hommels” (G and H teams) play their own unique brand of rugby before Friday morning when it kicks into the business end of the weekend.
This is the time when the two schools have their Big Brags in the school hall. Here, the Rugby and Hockey players that will represent their respective teams on the Saturday are introduced and the first teams are capped for Interschools.
All other rugby games are played on Friday afternoon. This is where the u/14A teams play each other, as well as and the “main” match of the day consisting of the u/19 3’rd teams, known among the locals as the “Chiefs” vs “Chippies”.
There are only 4 rugby matches played on the Saturday at Faure Street Stadium. The games usually start around 12h00 with the u15A match, followed by the u16A, the Seccies and then the main match commencing at 16h00
Paarl Boys’ High unbeaten run of three seasons finally came to an end at their 150th year celebrations when a visiting team from Argentina stopped the Blue Train in its tracks.
The number one schoolboy team for the last three years eventually had to lose a match and unfortunately for them, their festival year did not kick off to well.
The Paarl Boys’ team of 2018 always had the extra pressure of a 150th year celebration as well as the target of unbeaten teams on their back.
Things did not start well with the early loss against the Jaguares and the team struggled through some close fought matches against Outeniqua, Wynberg and Affies. On 5 May 2018, Grey College became the first South African team to beat Paarl Boys since Marlow in August 2014.
Just a week later they also lost against a resurgent Paul Roos. They again got on the winning track by narrowly beating Bishops and Boland Landbou before running into an Oakdale team that was hungry for a win. T
heir first loss in 10 years against the team from Riversdale must have gotten the alarm bells ringing at Brug Street.
They have one more game left against SACS to be able to rectify things before the big one at Faure Street.
At this stage, it seems like the boys from Southern Paarl are in for a hiding come Interschools if their current loss of form continues.
Despite their few losses, the team still managed to produce nine Craven Week players with three playing for the Western Province team and six for the WP XV team.
Three players in captain Adrian Alberts, Evan Roos and Emile van Heerden were also awarded SA Schools colours.
Paarl Gimnasium in contrast to their southern neighbours, the Paarl Gimnasium team started the season like a house on fire and won all their games bar one against Paul Roos.
The Gim team looks slick in attack and solid on defence and have racked up the points so far.
The team has no visible weak links with the forwards and backs combining well to form a unit that could be unstoppable come Saturday.
In their flyhalf, Charl Janson, they have a pivot who can control the game well and who knows when to give the ball air.
His combination with inside centre Dawid Kellerman has ripped backline defences apart the whole season and it could be a very long afternoon for the Boys High backs on Saturday.
Kellerman was deemed one of the best centres at Craven week, if not the best, and was unlucky not to be selected for SA Schools.
Paarl Gim had six boys in total selected for the two Craven Week sides with winger Stravino Jacobs being selected for SA Schools.
Paarl Gim has more Craven Week and SA Schools players, making them the weekend favourites.
The Gimnasium team also outperformed the boys in blue and did much better against the same opposition throughout the year.
On performance alone, it seems that the Paarl Gim will walk away as easy winners in this derby, but this is not an ordinary derby.