Wednesday Column

Last Friday evening they came from near and far some from Australia and some from the United States and even Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand-they came in their dozens from different eras to celebrate 100 years of rugby at the University of KZN. Some 700 alumni from both the Durban and Pietermaritzburg campus’s converged to watch UKZN Pietermaritzburg edge out Ricoh Maritzburg Collegians 20-16 in yet another enthralling annual York and Lancaster Cup game at the Peter Booysen Stadium in the capital before moving off to the marquee for a memorable evening of rugby camaraderie that will undoubtedly be remembered and cherished for many years to come.

It was a special evening and what a great pity the Vice Chancellor wasn’t there to embrace the moment. Certainly Steve Biko would have been one man that would have been bitterly disappointed that Malegapuru Makgoba was not in attendance for when you read their centenary brochure The Times of our Lives a publication celebrating 100 years of rugby at Natal University and UKZN one becomes astutely aware that the legendary activist is very much part of their rugby history. Who can forget the bearded Sports Union Secretary Bill Robinson of the late sixties and early seventies and First XV hooker Paul Pretorius who was also the then President of the Durban SRC arranging for an informal side from the Durban Varsity Rugby Club to play the Medical School complete with Steve Biko in their line up on a memorable Sunday afternoon in the August of 1970. Interestingly enough Steve Biko’s Medical School XV narrowly won the game. Varsity rugby has always been pro transformation and we can’t help but remember their contribution to the new dispensation and they do deserve recognition for that-after all it was always the Universities during the height of the Apartheid era that voted in favour of non-racial sport and they weren’t scared to vent their feelings either.

Springbok captains Tommy Bedford and Wynand Claassen together with 1995 Rugby World Cup lock and NO 8 Mark Andrews, Varsity stalwart Jimmy de Jager and international referee Craig Joubert sat on a panel with host Dave Pearse exchanging anecdotes and rugby stories to make their centenary celebration that much more special and certainly with the new generation UKZN Maritzburg squad getting ready to face Acer Durban Collegians in their Castle Murray Cup knockout quarter final match at the very same Peter Booysen Stadium this coming Saturday they will go into the game proudly prepared to start a new chapter in their remarkable history as they get ready for yet another 100 years of rugby excellence.

Jonsson College Rovers will travel across the Umgeni to play Goss and Balfe Crusaders at their Ranleigh Crescent headquarters in Durban North while Maritburg Collegians travel to Empangeni to meet ZRA Thanda Zululand Rhinos. Newcastle Highlanders will be making a rare visit to Durban to meet Varsity College Old Boys on their home grounds at Riverside.

The second sides will be following their Premier Division squads to play in the quarter finals of the Peter Taylor Cup knockout competition their games kicking off 2pm followed by Murray Cup games at 3.30pm.

In the picture right, two Varsity Old Boys at the Centenary celebrations former Bok skipper Gary Teichmann with former 60’s Bok wing Michel ‘Musch’ Antelme who presented the Man of the Match awards after the annual York and Lancaster Cup match between Varsity and PMB Collegians

The Starlite Under 19 Trophy third round will be hosted by Rovers tonight with front runners Bluff SuperSpar Harlequins who edged out Collegians 14-10 last week ready to challenge the hosts this time around while Crusaders who are back in action after sitting out last week face Durban Collegians. Oldies who sit out this week were thumped 78-0 last Wednesday. The first game kicks off at 6.30pm

- Jos Robson