MARIETTE ADAMS looks at the rivalry between Cape Town schools Bishops and Rondebosch.
HISTORY OF DERBY
The rivalry between the two schools situated in the shadow of Newlands Stadium dates back to 1908, when Bishops recorded a 112-0 win over their neighbours in their first competitive match. It has since developed into one of the most anticipated, evenly contested and robust schools derbies in the country. While Rondebosch have made up some ground since Bishops’ dominance in the early years, the latter still hold bragging rights, with 99 wins and only 74 defeats in the 191 games played.
LAST YEAR’S DERBIES
Rondebosch completed the double over Bishops in 2016, winning 15-14 and 30-26. The opening encounter was a see-saw affair, which saw the lead change hands twice before the final whistle. The second match, at Piley Rees, Bishops’ home patch, was equally dramatic, but it also had a controversial edge. Rondebosch led 22-5 shortly after the break, before Bishops mounted a sublime comeback to lead 26-25. The joy of the hosts and the ecstatic crowd was short-lived as Bosch fullback Mike Mavovana beat four defenders to score the winning try. Bishops, however, had a legitimate claim to have the try disallowed, as Rondebosch had 16 players on the field at the time.
FAMOUS OLD BOYS WHO PLAYED IN DERBY
NIC GROOM (RONDEBOSCH)
‘I had grown up living at Rondebosch Boys’, as my dad was a teacher there, so I had seen a lot of derbies. It’s something that I longed for. Whatever the sport, you know that when you play Bishops it will be at a new level; very different to other games in the year. There’s a buzz around the school in the week; the massive crowds, the chants and the old boys all play their part. What is also special is getting to play in the white jersey, which happens only when we play Bishops. Regardless of every other game in the season, if you beat Bishops, it has been a successful year.’
FRANCOIS LOUW (BISHOPS)
‘I played in four derbies – in 2002 and 2003. In both years we had a reasonably strong side and competed pretty well. I clearly remember beating Rondebosch 53-6 in 2002 and then 78-19 in their backyard in 2003. The buildup to the game actually starts when the fixtures are released early in the year. Come game week, you can feel the buzz from the Monday morning through to the Saturday. Dare I say, that week of learning doesn’t quite sit well with the 1st XV players as they have other things on their minds. Game day is just unreal, really. The main pitch is packed with parents, fans, old boys and the lot. As a player you realise you are representing a lot of people, eager for success and triumph. It’s exhilarating.’
HERSCHELLE GIBBS (BISHOPS)
‘The most vivid memory for me is the size of the crowd, which was always substantially bigger on derby day. It got the adrenaline pumping. There was always quite a lot of tension, because all the boys think their school is better than the other, but with me playing for Bishops, Rondebosch had no chance. Facing Rondebosch brought the best out of me. I always wanted to be the main man and in 1992, my one goal was to score against Rondebosch in their backyard. From turnover possession on our own tryline, I ran the length of the field to score a solo effort. In that moment I was so ecstatic, I rubbed it in their faces. I never lost a game against Bosch. In fact, I never lost against any of the boys schools in the southern suburbs. Damn, it still feels good to be able to say that. Year in and year out Rondebosch had to watch us dominate, with their tails between their legs because they were always on the end of a beating. Unlike these days, where Bishops lose quite a lot.’
THREE CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS
2010: RONDEBOSCH 19 BISHOPS 19
In a game of two halves, Rondebosch took a surprising 19-0 lead against an insipid Bishops outfit thanks to tries by Rayn Smid (two) and Giovanni Hofmeyer. But a rejuvenated Bishops hit back after the break to level matters, courtesy of scores by Guy Whitfield, Evan Strauss and Uwe Jacobs. With the match hanging in the balance and time running out, both teams were afforded an opportunity to snatch a win, but Calvin Young missed a sitter for Rondebosch from dead in front, before Bishops’ Tim Swiel pulled his shot wide. With the last play of the match, Swiel punched a hole in Rondebosch’s defence, drew the last defender and sent in James Crowson for what looked to be the winning try. But accomplished referee Jonathan Kaplan ruled the final pass to be forward and from the resulting scrum, Rondebosch kicked into touch to end the enthralling affair.
2014: BISHOPS 22 RONDEBOSCH 21
Rondebosch opened up a 14-point lead despite, conceding an early yellow card at Bishops’ home ground, Piley Rees. But the hosts grafted their way back into the game to trail Bosch 21-19 in the dying minutes. They worked their way into the red zone and when Rondebosch were penalised just inside the right-hand touchline, replacement centre Cornel Smit held his nerve and coolly converted the chance into three match-winning points as Bishops completed the double over Rondebosch for the first time since 2008.
2016: RONDEBOSCH 15 BISHOPS 14
Bishops were in full control and led for large parts of the game. With the clock winding down and the score at 14-10 in favour of the visitors, Rondebosch fullback Mike Mavovana scored a late try to give his team the lead, only for them to concede a kickable penalty at the other end after the restart. With the chance to be the hero for Bishops, scrumhalf Harry Makin lined up the match-defining kick, only for his effort to go agonisingly wide as Rondebosch hung on.
LAST 10 RESULTS
2012: Rondebosch 3 Bishops 15
2012: Bishops 11 Rondebosch 19
2013: Bishops 7 Rondebosch 22
2013: Rondebosch 11 Bishops 23
2014: Rondebosch 14 Bishops 52
2014: Bishops 22 Rondebosch 21
2015: Bishops 36 Rondebosch 23
2015: Rondebosch 55 Bishops 12
2016: Rondebosch 15 Bishops 14
2016: Bishops 26 Rondebosch 30
NUMBERS THAT MATTER
400 – Distance between the schools in metres
86 – Points Bishops’ Painton Cowen scored in the first derby, in 1908, which Bishops won 112-0
99 – Matches won by Bishops
74 – Matches won by Rondebosch
IN NEXT MONTH’S MAG: Dale College vs Queen’s College