Saturday 24 June Premier Interschools present one of the oldest school derbies in the country. Diocesan College or Bishops as they are more commonly known as versus Rondebosch Boys’ High is one of the most highly anticipated schoolboy games in the Western Cape.
Old boys from all corners of the world will be at the Piley Rees to witness the 192nd game between these two great schools, the first being played in 1908. They only played the once-off match in 1908 and then resumed their yearly derbies from 1911.
The first match between the two schools saw Bishops running rampant on that day winning the encounter 112-0 with Painton Cowen scoring 86 points in the match. Bishops have older rivalries against SACS, St Andrew’s College and Paul Roos Gimnasium but it can’t compare against the rivalry they have against Rondebosch Boys’ High.
This is one of the longest run interschool derbies in the country and because they regularly play it twice a year, the amount of games played against each other is high. There is pride and bragging rights at stake for the next year in the leafy suburbs of Rondebosch and Newlands. The two schools are only about 400m apart and are situated in the shadows of the home of WP Rugby, Newlands Stadium. Many a schoolboy from these two schools moved from their home turf over to Newlands to represent Western Province on the hallowed Newlands ground.
The encounter is played with the most beautiful background in South Africa with Table Mountain casting its shadow over the Piley Rees field. It is also fittingly that Bishops plays some of the most beautiful running rugby in the country. Rondebosch Boys’ High also plays an open style of rugby which makes this clash one of the most exciting matches to watch.
Bosch has won 75 games with Bishops dominating the clash, sitting on 98 wins thus far. These two sides have also drawn 18 times.
An interesting note is that the Rondebosch 1st team coach, Mark Lindenberg and the Bishops 1st team coach, Richard Smith, were team mates who played together for the Rondebosch 1st team in 1997. Mark was at hooker and Richard at centre; on both occasions Bosch beat Bishops at home and away. Mark and Richard then studied Human Movement Science together at Stellenbosch University and spent many an evening discussing rugby while watching “Boots & All”. This adds an interesting dynamic for both coaches approaching this match.
Another notable fact is that Wesley Chetty has represented both schools 1st teams – playing for Bosch in 2005 and as a post-matric student at Bishops in 2006. Wesley is currently the Bishops forwards coach.
Bishops 2017 Season
Bishops started their 2017 season with four wins on the trot. They won against a very good St Andrew’s College from Grahamstown who only recently put Selborne College away who in turn won against Grey College. They also beat Stellenberg who is another Top 20 school. Their draw against SACS was one of their better performances as SACS is currently rated in the Top 10 in the country. They came up against the two Paarl giants in their last two matches and could just not hold their own in the last 20 minutes, going down in both matches.
Playmaker Ross Goodwin at scrumhalf and captain Rob MacDonald at centre is the two vital cogs in the Bishops backline. Add elusive runner James Ipser from fullback and they have the ingredients to play the typical Bishops running style of rugby. To be able to do this they will need good ball from their forwards and here hooker Ghaalieb Kenny is the catalyst in getting the Bishops pack going.
Rondebosch 2017 Season
Rondebosch has had up-and-down season so far. Having started with 4 good wins out of 5 which included pushing KES, currently a top 5 ranked team, very close in front of their home supporters. They lost 5 out of their next 6 matches (three of which were against Top 10 schools like Paarl Gim, Paarl Boys and Paul Roos). The team have fared well, most notably against Stellenberg who they led for most of the game before succumbing and coming very close to beating Paarl Gim. Their last draw against SACS showed that they have the potential to play much better as SACS is currently rated in the Top 10.
Rondebosch will look to captain Robbie Davis to muster the troops and bring the same intensity he showed in the game against SACS to ensure they keep Bishops waiting a little longer for a win. Robbie will be well supported by hard running centres DJ Falconer and Zaka Sallie. In the pack, tough man Braden Tredoux will lead the line outs and aim to create the kind of set piece pressure that has won Bosch the last 3 encounters.
Rugby at Bishops
There is a myth that William Webb Ellis started rugby. There is also a myth that Canon Ogilvie brought rugby to South Africa. In fact, he detested the game and did not want Bishops to play it. What he brought to South Africa in 1861 was a form of football at a time when there was no game called soccer and rugby football was played only at Rugby School. Canon Ogilvie’s game was based on what was played at his old school, Winchester College in Hampshire. George Ogilvie was a remarkable personality. His nickname was Gog and the game played at the Cape was often referred to as Gog’s Game or Gogball.
Bishops got the Cape playing football of this kind, starting with the South African College. Bishops and SACS may well have played each other as far back as 1892. Eventually clubs were formed, Hamiltons in 1875 and then Villagers to start with, and then in the late 1870s the rugby game was brought to the Cape and became generally accepted, as it had become in England in 1871. Then the Western Province RFU was formed to regulate the game in the Western Province. Bishops, like SACS and then Victoria College out at Stellenbosch, played in the Grand Challenge competition of the WP RFU. That all changed with the coming of the school. In those early days, Bishops had the advantage of coaching, especially by HH Castens, a South African old boy of Rugby School and Oxford. Then it also had the great South African rugby personality and thinker of last century ion Barry Heatlie, whose nickname was usually Fairy but also Ox. Heatlie, who helped to found the Old Diocesans’ Union, also formed an Old Diocesans RFC. In forming the old boys’ union, he – or rather his wife –had worked out colours. The predominant colour was green. In days when dyeing was the simplest way of getting rugby jerseys, the OD RFC decided to use green – myrtle green.
Touring teams came to South Africa in 1891, 1896 and 1903. In those days, the local union would appoint a captain who would pick a team to represent South Africa and give them jerseys to play in. When Heatlie became captain in 1896 he gave them his club’s jerseys – and South Africa won for the first time. When he was again made captain in 1903 he gave his teams green jerseys again and South Africa won a series for the first time. And so, South Africa still plays in green jerseys. In 1903 Gerald Orpen of SACS and two Bishops men, Fairy Heatlie and Biddy Anderson, pushed through a recommendation that the springbok be added to the jersey. It had been intended for 1903 but first came to pass in 1906.
The following is the list of those acknowledged as Bishops internationals:
- South Africa: Mauritz van Buuren, Harry Boyes, who was the first secretary of the SA Rugby Board when it was founded in 1889, Frank Guthrie, Bill Bisset, Jack Hartley, who is the youngest player ever to have represented South Africa, Charlie van Renen and his brother Willie, Percy Twentyman Jones, who became the president of the WP RFU and also played cricket for South Africa, Biddy Anderson, who captained South Africa at cricket and refereed a Test, FR Myburgh, Paul Scott, Davey Cope, the first man to kick a goal for South Africa in a test, who was killed in a train smash at Mostert’s Hoek on his way to a Currie Cup tournament, Theo Samuels who first scored a try for South Africa, Barry Heatlie (captain), Long George Devenish, who was for years a national selector, Joe Barry, Syd Ashley, Bertie Gibbs, Paddy Carolin (captain), who first devised the 3-4-1 scrum formation and regretted doing so, Mary Jackson, Barley Burdett, who died in World War I, Noel Howe-Browne, Bai Wrentmore, Geoff Grey, who became a national selector, DO Williams,. George D’Alton, John Apsey (Prep only), Dendy Lawton, Howard Watt, Dennis Fry and his brother Stephen (captain), Tommy Gentles, Bobby Johns, Peter Whipp, Dugald Macdonald, Guy Kebble, Christian Stewart, Robbie Fleck, Selborne Boome, David von Hoesslin, Hanyani Shimange (Prep only), François Louw, Nizaam Carr and their latest Dillyn Leyds who debuted for the Springboks from the bench against France on 10 June 2017. Fleck, Boome and Von Hoesslin were in the same team at Bishops, when the star was Herschelle Gibbs.
- International Barbarians: Nick Koster
- England: Reg Hands, Tuppy Owen-Smith (captain), Ossie Newton Thompson, Clive van Ryneveld, Christopher Newton Thompson (wartime), Stuart Abbott
- Scotland: Harold McCowat, Beak Steyn, Mike Dickson, Donald Macdonald
- Wales: Mike Davies, Haldane Luscombe
- Canada: Christian Stewart
- Zimbabwe: Mark Neill, Russell Ashley-Cooper (Many others played for Rhodesia)
- Australia: Daniel Vickermann
- Argentina: Barry Heatlie – which means that he played for two countries.
In addition, Bill Bisset and Biddy Anderson refereed tests.
In the 2003 World Cup Bishops had 3 old boys representing 3 different countries, a world first. Selborne Boom for the Boks, Daniel Vickerman for Australia and Stuart Abbot for England.
Basil Bey is the most successful Bishops coach of all times. From 1986 to 1989 Bishops only lost one game. That was in 1987 to Grey High.
Rugby at Rondebosch Boys High
Rugby at RBHS is steeped in tradition, pride and passion. The impressive list of provincial and national rugby players bears testimony to the depth of association between Rondebosch and top class rugby.
Rondebosch started off as a soccer playing school, but by 1904, rugby was being played on an unofficial basis. In 1906 soccer was dropped and the bold step was taken to enter a rugby team in the u/16 competition where it had to compete, among others, with those schools with colleges attached to them, namely Diocesan College, SACS and Stellenbosch. By 1913, the school won the under 15 and under 13 competitions. From this time onwards, Rondebosch became a force in WP schools’ rugby, though it was 1922 before the School could win the under 17 Shield for the first time as well as the u/15 and u/13 competitions. The golden years of Rondebosch rugby were undoubtedly the 1960s. Three teams went through unbeaten in the years 1960, 1964 and 1967.
RBHS practices a professional and innovative approach to the school’s rugby with a comprehensive Performance Sports Testing programme. This programme assesses players’ physical strength/weaknesses in relation to his playing position. It focuses on the abilities all players should possess and aim to develop, to improve his performance profile. RBHS was the first school in South Africa that embarked on a study to maximize the safety of its players and adopt the programme. This includes using a sophisticated, research-based software tool designed to assist coaches and doctors to better manage a player’s return after sustaining a sports-related concussion. The system is called IMPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing).
- Springboks: Gerald Thompson, Frank Mellish, Jackie Tindall, Willie Rousseau, Bennie Osler, Stanley Osler, Jock van Niekerk, Mervyn Ellis, Jack Gage, Alvi van der Merwe, John Apsey, Dendy Lawton, James Starke, Mike Lawless, Ian McCallum, Roy McCallum, Chris Pope, Derek van den Berg, Joel Stransky (at Rondebosch till his under 16 year), Gcobani Bobo and Hanyani Shimange.
- England: Frank Mellish; France: Eric Melvill; Ireland: Dion O’Cuinneagain (captain), who also captained the South African Sevens side; USA Sevens: Dallen Stanford.
In the 1st test against the great 1974 Lions side of Willie-John McBride, three Rondebosch Old Boys were in the starting line-up for the Springboks at Newlands. Ian McCallum at fullback, his brother Roy McCallum at scrumhalf and wing Chris Pope. That was the only time the three ever played a test together. SA lost that test 12-3 and the Springbok selectors panicked and started what is now known as “the farce of ‘74” selection process. That test was the last of Ian McCallum’s 11 tests and the first of Chris Pope’s 9 tests. Sadly, that was Roy McCallum first and only test. He deserved a second chance as much as anyone as he was n brilliant scrumhalf, but suffered behind a springbok pack murdered by the British Lions. He paid the ultimate price for his forwards lack of dominance.
The game will be broadcast live on Saturday 24 June on SuperSport One from 11.55 (kick-off at 12.00)