Hilton College and Michaelhouse have developed a fierce but friendly rivalry over the past 113 years, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
HISTORY OF THE DERBY
The first match between Michaelhouse and Hilton College took place in the dusty Pietermaritzburg town square in 1904. Of the 197 derbies played, Michaelhouse have won 99, Hilton 89 and there have been 10 draws. The derby attracts up to 10,000 spectators.
LAST YEAR’S DERBIES
Hilton had won five matches in a row when they arrived in Balgowan for the first derby of 2016. They had a strong, well-coached team and were tipped to win comfortably. By contrast, Michaelhouse were on a four-game losing run. The teams could not be separated at the break after flyhalves Angus Curtis and Dante Gutu traded penalties. Curtis crossed for a self-converted try early in the second half, which opened up a seven-point lead for Hilton. Michaelhouse replacement flank Sean Joubert scored in the dying minutes to give his side a chance of snatching a draw, but Gutu missed the conversion and Hilton won 10-8.
In the return fixture, Michaelhouse claimed a memorable 21-17 triumph at Hilton. The hosts had a 12-0 lead, but Michaelhouse responded with a converted try either side of the interval to edge in front. Hilton fullback Cameron Badenhorst broke through the defence to score his second try of the game, but with eight minutes remaining, Michaelhouse produced a superb play that saw inside centre Kyle Thompson score the match-winning try.
THIS YEAR’S DERBIES
Hilton produced a powerful display to sink their traditional rivals in the first of two derbies. Hilton bulldozed House at the Balgowan and opened a commanding 16-0 lead. Grade 11 pupil Gareth Schreuder landed three penalties, which were closely followed by a converted try from hooker Tim Densham. Against the run of play, Michaelhouse responded with a converted effort, but that was cancelled out immediately after the restart when No 8 Tristan Warren scored to put Hilton 21-7 up at the break. Michaelhouse came out firing in the second half with prop and captain Keynon Knox barging over for a converted try, but Hilton put the result beyond doubt with 17 unanswered points, via two tries and a penalty. When flank Christian Opperman scored a late try for Michaelhouse, there was a muted celebration as his effort would not be enough to deny Hilton a 38-21 win at home.
There was more derby misery to come for Michaelhouse in the second clash of 2017 when Hilton hammered them 41-12. It was one-way traffic in favour of Hilton, who held a 31-0 lead at half-time thanks to five tries scored by lock Andrew James, centre Heinrich Marx (two), prop Jono Smit and fullback Alex Roy. Michaelhouse’s troubles in defence continued into the second half as they conceded a further two tries, with Smit completing his brace and replacement scrumhalf Graham Curtis also adding his name to the scoresheet. The hosts would provide their supporters with something to cheer about when Declan Newton and Marco Parau scored late in the game, but it wasn’t much consolation.
FAMOUS OLD BOYS WHO PLAYED IN THE DERBY
WAYNE FYVIE (HILTON)
‘In my first derby in 1990, we had five boys in our team who made the Natal Schools side that year. We went on to the field thinking we’d win easily, but we lost. That result remained with me throughout my career, because it was the day I learned that there is no room for complacency in sport. In the second derby, we beat Michaelhouse quite convincingly. Our scrumhalf, Hentie Martens, almost single-handedly ripped Michaelhouse apart, scoring four tries. I remember the razzmatazz on the side of the field on derby days was always bigger than the match. It created more genuine enthusiasm among the spectators than any other schools-rugby event.’
KIM ELGIE (MICHAELHOUSE)
‘I played in the derby a very long time ago, but still remember it like it was the other day. School rugby and rugby in general wasn’t very principled in those days and we went at each other hard. Kearsney, Glenwood and Maritzburg were all big games in which you wanted to throw down the gauntlet from the outset and then share a good laugh afterwards. It was different against Hilton. We weren’t friends on the field or off it. It’s a lot different now. My grandson played for Michaelhouse five years ago and we’d go to the matches. The game draws a much bigger crowd today, but it has become a bit too familiar for my liking. Playing against Hilton should always be a heated contest.’
TWO CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS
2012: MICHAELHOUSE 22 HILTON 26
Cameron Wright (right), the scrumhalf who recently returned to the Sharks from Montpellier, was the hero for Hilton, who erased a half-time deficit to win the game. No 8 Joshua Moon’s brace of tries and a penalty by Rob Anderson saw Michaelhouse leading 19-17 at half-time. Anderson kicked a drop goal early in the second half. However, Wright, who had slotted two conversions and a penalty before the break, added three second-half penalties to turn the result in Hilton’s favour.
2014: MICHAELHOUSE 20 HILTON 13
Playing in perfect conditions, Michaelhouse enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession. However, the Balgowan side couldn’t drive home the advantage and only led 9-3 at half-time thanks to three penalties by flyhalf Bader Pretorius. Hilton played with more intensity early in the second half and took the lead, courtesy of a converted try by No 8 Sebastien Desvaux de Marigny. But the hosts then scored 11 unanswered points – two Pretorius penalties and an unconverted try – to wrestle back control. Hilton added a second penalty to reduce the deficit to seven, but Michaelhouse hung on for the win.
PAST 10 RESULTS
2013: Michaelhouse 42 Hilton 12
2013: Hilton 43 Michaelhouse 34
2014: Michaelhouse 20 Hilton 13
2014: Hilton 12 Michaelhouse 39
2015: Michaelhouse 24 Hilton 18
2015: Hilton 24 Michaelhouse 38
2016: Michaelhouse 8 Hilton 10
2016: Hilton 17 Michaelhouse 21
2017: Hilton 38 Michaelhouse 21
2017: Michaelhouse 12 Hilton 41
NUMBERS THAT MATTER
99 – Derbies won by Michaelhouse
89 – Derbies won by Hilton
2,365 – Points scored by Michaelhouse
2,214 – Points scored by Hilton
51 – The biggest winning margin (Michaelhouse won 51-0 in 1910)
7 – The longest winning streak, achieved by both schools
Photo: Hilton College Facebook page