Top-level schoolboy rugby derbies in South Africa are always big social gatherings, where up to 15 000 spectators will gather to watch potential future Springboks in action. Such is the interest in schoolboy rugby that selected matches are broadcast live on national television every weekend during the season.
South Africa is home to some of the best rugby schools in the world, including Grey College in Bloemfontein, Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool in Pretoria, and Maritzburg College in KwaZulu-Natal.
In addition to the high-quality rugby on show, musical and theatre performances are often put on by pupils of participating schools in the build-up to the first team clash, making for a festive atmosphere.
Here are some of the bigger derby matches to look out for:
Western Cape: Paarl Gymnasium vs Paarl Boys
This match in the town of Paarl, which is famous for its wine, has been known to attract more than 20 000 spectators, making it one of the biggest schoolboy rugby derbies in the world.
Gauteng: Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool vs Pretoria Boys High
While “Affies”, as Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool is commonly known, tends to dominate this derby, Pretoria Boys High (which boasts legendary Springbok captain John Smit in its list of old boys) does spring the odd surprise.
The serene city of Pretoria provides a great setting for this fixture.
KwaZulu-Natal: Hilton vs Michaelhouse
Two of South Africa’s most prestigious high schools, which are both based in the scenic KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, have been friendly rivals on the rugby field since 1896.
Take your picnic basket and deck chairs and set up along the embankments that serve as stands at both schools.
Free State/Eastern Cape: Grey College vs Grey High School
Grey College in the Free State has enjoyed a long rivalry with Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. The former has produced more Springboks than any other school in the country, and is known for playing hard, clean rugby.