Paarl Boys’ showed why they are South Africa’s best schools side by winning the Paarl derby, writes OLLIE KEOHANE.
One point separated the No 1 and No 2 school sides in South Africa this past Saturday. But perhaps a point bigger than that of any on a rugby scoreboard, is the point Paarl Boys’ have made, in proving once again that they are South Africa’s top schoolboys team.
With this win, Paarl Boys’ have secured a 40-match unbeaten streak, no easy feat. And the games have not been blowouts, with some being hard-fought victories, often in unfavourable conditions.
Last week against SACS, Boys’ High went into half-time behind on the scoreboard but showed their class and grit as a team by slowly pulling the game into their favour. Leading by only one point with seven minutes to go, Boys’ High dominated to such an extent in those final few minutes that it came as no surprise when they scored the two tries to put an immensely physical and drilled SACS side away with a 28-13 win.
Paarl Boys’ playing style shares lots of similarities with the top New Zealand sides, and even the All Blacks themselves. They very rarely turn down first-half points, always looking to secure three-pointers. And although at times they appeared disjointed or rattled towards the start of a game, they time and time again have grown into the 70 minutes and shown superior class, calmness and conditioning in coming away victorious.
This Saturday’s hyped derby against Paarl Gym was no different. Paarl Gym looked the stronger and fresher side in the first half, linking well and building phases and securing a first-half lead. Yet, in a repeat of the previous week, Boys’ High came out in the second half, stuck to their structures, played with an apparent purpose and gained the lead. Every one of their 15 players did their part, with their pack nullifying Gym’s and allowing their backs to gain momentum.
Although there was only one point in it, Paarl Boys’ gave the viewer a sense that they were in control for the whole second half. This confident and controlling style has been a trend in their fantastic season, and can be attributed to the leadership of SA Schools lock Salmaan Moerat as well as clear coaching structures that have been implemented through the management and executed by the players over the past two years.
Paarl Boys’ have shown over the 2015-16 season, the importance of structure and a bond within the team. Every time they play, it’s clear not only that they are playing for each other but that they are playing to a structured, systematic game plan. And every time they play, they come out victorious.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images