Collegians derby takes centre stage

Pietermaritzburg steals the limelight this Saturday (3.30pm) as the battle of the Collegians looms large. Ricoh/Motswako Pmb Collegians host their old adversaries SA Home Loan Durban Collegians at Woodburn in the first of a series of Club Days being hosted by Fidelity Security.

The teams have had very contrasting starts to their respective campaigns. Pmb Collegians remain winless thus far this season and are coming off a 90-0 drubbing at the hands of College Rovers. They will be hoping to erase those painful memories with an improved performance this weekend.

Their coach, Renier Bosman, described the performance against Rovers as embarrassing but has promised that his troops will be up for the challenge of the big derby clash.

"We have put that loss behind us," said Bosman. "It was my heaviest defeat that I have suffered and I intend to bring back the intensity and dignity in our performances. There has always been a mutual respect between the clubs and no- doubt, there is pride at stake this weekend."

Durban Collegians have quietly gone about their business this season and carry an unbeaten record going into this match. They sit second on the table but their coach, Robin Swanepoel, remains coy on any suggestions of them being title contenders.

Swanepoel said: "We just taking each game as it comes. We are excited about the challenge of the derby and going to Woodburn is always difficult irrespective of our opponents results this season." He added that there was a good spirit in the camp and that their aspirations for the season were taking shape.

The Collegians' derby is steeped in history and dates back to the early 1900s. Pmb Collegians were formed in 1903 by Maritzburg College Masters with their Durban counterparts being formed around 1907. The rivalry has remained since and escalated significantly during 60s and 70s when both clubs were producing Springboks.

Pmb Collegians can proudly boast to have had one of the greatest Springbok captains, Phillip Nel, to have played for them. He played in the 20s and 30s and memorably led the Springboks to an overseas tour victory in New Zealand in 1937.

Elsewhere, the action continues with another intriguing derby in Durban North as Varsity College RFC host Marshall Security Crusaders. Both teams have been playing enterprising rugby this season and a huge battle is anticipated.

The defending champions, Jonsson College Rovers, make a tricky trip to Maritzburg as they square-off against the FNB Ukzn Impi. Rovers are unbeaten this season and sit on top of the log but they will be wary of the threat that their opponents pose.

In the battle of the basement teams, Oxford Wentworth Harlequins take on Zululand Rhinos at the Bluff. Both teams are struggling at the moment and staring down the barrel of a long and difficult season. A victory for either team will be as good as gold.

Ismail Adam