PIETERMARIZBURG COLLEGIANS RUGBY CLUB - THE VERY HEART OF WHERE IT ALL BEGAN IN KWAZULU NATAL
The formation and early history of this famous club does make for interesting reading. There can be no doubt that the early history of rugby football in KZN can be traced back to Maritzburg College.
The school known as Pietermaritzburg High School in the early years opened its doors to 33 boys way back in 1863 with their first headmaster William Calder in the driving seat of an institution that unbeknown to him at the time, was to become one of the great rugby schools of South Africa.
The school was first situated in Longmarket Street and was soon to make its presence felt on the playing fields of the then small thriving midlands town. In 1868 the school's new headmaster James Forder saw that there was a growing interest in the amount of sporting codes being played at schools and decided to introduce rugby to the High School in the town.
The game introduced was of Winchester rules out of England and by all accounts it was the beginning of what induced that famous esprit de corps that was to become one of the great binding forces of the school that we have come to know of Maritzburg College to this day.
6 October 187O was to become the most important date in the history of rugby in the province for it was on that day that Hermannsberg High School arrived in Pietermaritzburg after a two day wagon trip to play the local high school. It was the first ever recorded game of rugby played and the rest, as they say, is history.
Maritzburg Collegians was founded some years later on a clear summers evening of 27 February 1903 with a certain S.Y. Stevens Esq. in the chair. It was perhaps more the brainchild of Mr. A.S. Langley, who had been a teacher at Durban High School and had subsequently joined the Maritzburg College staff in 1897, to form an Old Collegians Club.
So it was on that historic date at the inaugural meeting of the 104 year old club the following founder members where present: Mssrs. A.S. Langley, Bryan, Redlich, Smythe, Stevens, Rutherford, Stalker, Woodhouse, McFie, Anderson, Groom, Gilbert, Kenmuir, Bamber, Lindsay, Thompson, Peters, Hopkins, Todd, Varty, L.G. Holgate, W.R. Holgate, Mason, Paterson, Ginsberg, R.A. Holgate and King.
The first ever executive committee of Collegians was as follows Patron: R.D. Clark. President: E.W. Barns. Vice Presidents: C. Bird, G.S. MacFarlane and S.W. Sweeney. Club Captain: A.S. Langley. Vice Captain: J.D. Stalker. Secretary and Treasurer: R.A. Holgate. The committee itself was to be made up of the captain and his vice together with the secretary and Mssrs Rutherford and Stevens. The agreed subscription fee of 10/6 was unanimously agreed upon and so Maritzburg Collegians as we know the club today was born.
Although the club has not been as successful as their Durban counterparts over the years, they have had some golden moments to savour and for years were always considered one of the top sides in KZN. They have only won the Moor Cup on two occasions in 1964 and 65, a period were they were really a huge force with great Natal and Springbok players like Don Watson, Hannes Viljoen, Andries Geyser, Mickey Bourquin, Gerry de Souza and Mauritz van Rooyen to name a few, who were part of that hugely successful period.
Of course the name Ken Job - who one can safely refer to as Mr Maritzburg Collegians - was coaching during those golden years. Ken and his dear wife Doreen have been great servants of the club with Ken himself having been a player, a coach, an administrator and above all, a true loyal Collegian.
Their success in the Murray Cup Knockout competition has been a lot more fruitful having won the prized piece of silverware on seven occasions with their 1961 side often being spoken as their best ever, which is easy to understand considering that players like Digby Rhodes (Jonty's dad), Chris Burger, Ormond Taylor, Ken Job, Don Watson Ernie Smith and Laurie Bromfield were in the line up.
The other great side was the class of 1980 led by the late Peter Dove. It was a side that had names like Gudgie Dixon, Sarel Erwee, John Mullis, Colin Locke and Kevin Steward on their team list. The class of '83 was even more special with names like James Evertse, Dixon, Erwee, Mullis, Mike Kempe, Ian Burden, Joos de Waal, Cedric Wilmans, John Dimmick, Herman van Heerden, Graham Whitelaw, Dave de Lange, Eddie Kitchen, Charlie Davidson, Chris Bobbert, Andy Roberts and Laurie Sharp (Captain) in their line up.
The legendary Springbok captain of the now famous 1937 side that toured New Zealand, Philip Nel was in the Murray Cup winning sides of 1928 and '29. Indeed they have had some pretty well known rugby players and personalities passing through their ranks throughout the decades.
Nel a farmer from Greytown is undoubtedly their most famous Springbok, while the other internationals include Ormond Taylor, Ian McCullum, Hannes Viljoen, Derek van den Berg, Chris de Nysschen, Lood Muller, Henry Honiball and Ricardo Loubser.
There were many other names that have contributed to the club both as players and administrators and have been great servants of the game over the years including the late great Jack Dalton, Bill Sharp, Frans de Beer, Andries Geyser, the late John Mullis, Ken and Dor Job, Laurie Sharp, Bobbie Botha, Rhyn Swanepoel, Jacques Ungerer, Bobbie Knott, Barry Locke, Mort Mortassagne, Hansie Pieterse, Russell Ash, Paul Langenberg, Louis Prinsloo, Ernie Smith, the late Gerry de Souza, Armin Bartels, Larry Aitken, Rocky Rich, Gordon Brown, Hennie Laatz, Laurie Backhouse, Andre Olivier, Steve Botha and so many others together with Tony Day who put together quite the most memorable Centenary Banquet in 2003.
Gestetner are the current sponsors of the club.
Here's too many more successful years ahead for Maritzburg Collegians.