YOUNG rugby players soaked up the atmosphere and opportunity at Woodburn Stadium for three days last week at the Spar KZN Inter-District rugby tournament.
At the end of it all, three KZN sides were announced, an U13A and B side plus an U12 team.
Saturday afternoon saw the final game of the tournament with the U13A sides from Durban Coastals and Southern KZN doing battle.
Southern KZN were the surprise package in the U13 division when their determination and never-say-die attitude saw them win two successive matches and qualify for the final.
This was the first time in five years the team had recorded such an achievement and coach Warren Hitchings was a proud man.
“I am more than happy,” he said. “The lads just clicked and the atmosphere in the team was fantastic. Every guy backed the other on and off the field and I was honoured to be part of such a great team.”
Hailing from Pennington Primary School, Hitchings paid tribute to the commitment of the team, especially when it came to training together.
“These were quality players, the best from the region, yet we only had three training sessions,” he said.
Durban Coastal’s coach was Brandon Hobbs from Glenwood Prep. “There was a great team spirit with some talented players,” he said. “To go all the way and win the tournament is special and here were some individuals who were game breakers in key areas.”
A total of 330 boys played at the tournament and KZN Midlands Primary Schools’ Rugby chairman Tiny Coetzee was delighted with the three days and what was on show.
He highlighted how the selection process worked, saying: “We have had a re-look at the selection structure, with the players who make the squads having to go through another round to impress selectors.
“Two U13 sides travel to Bloemfontein to play in the Bondedag, which serves as the final trials as to who will be selected for the final A or B side. Once the sides have been confirmed, the A side heads to Craven Week in Wit Rivier and the B side to Sasolburg.”
The U12 boys return to Pietermaritzburg for their final round of trials, with the final team representing the province in Vryheid.
KZN U13A: KH Thomas (Izothso Primary), U Botha (Umhlali Prep), T Trollip (DPHS), H Gouws (Richards Bay Primary), C R de Bruyn (Scottburgh Primary), M Khuzwayo (Glenwood Prep), M Mkhize (Glenwood Prep), K Khumalo (Pelham), P Elliot (DPHS), M Halstead (Clifton), S Nkomo (King Edward), 12 S Ngcobo (Glenwood Prep), K Mbongwa (DPHS), M vd Merwe (Glenwood Prep), E Matkovich (Westville Senior Primary), N Mdabe (Mtubatuba), B Nortje (Kuswag Skool), M Xego (DPHS), J Dobson (Kloof Senior Primary), M Khalishwayo (Paul Pietersburg), E Potgieter (Lucas Meyer), J Murray (Cowan House). Coach - M Dick (DPHS), Asst Coach - M Jali (DPHS).
KZN U13B: M Fierro (Highbury Prep), J McCabe (Merchiston), M Immelman (Westville Senior Primary), C van Heerden (Pelham), M Madela (Hutton Park), L Grobler (Kuswag), L Stubbs (Merchiston), N Zikalala (Monument), B Oellerman (Merchiston), H Trodd (Merchiston), M Maphisa (Mtubatuba), N Dludla (Nuwe Republiek), K Morsink (Izotsho), Y Gosai (Atholl Heights), J Roets (Amanzimtoti), J Bessick (Northlands Primary), N Mndaweni (DPHS), M King (Merchiston), M de Klerk (Cordwalles), T Tomsett (Virginia Prep), M Grant (Cordwalles), T Nkosi (Piet Retief). Coach - S Carroll (Northlands Primary), Asst Coach - B Hobbs (Glenwood Prep).
KZN U12: A Mfiki (Glenwood Prep), Q Pitout (Merchiston), A Zondi (Cordwalles), S Mkhize (Glenwood Prep), 5 J Venter (Pongola), K Manukuza (Mt Mathuba Primary), L Mtshali (Veldenvlei) G Mbatha (Paul Pietersburg), C Oellerman (Merchiston), C Davis (Virginia), S Kok (Merchiston), A Zakwe (Merchiston), C Maree (Piet Retief), L Mpongose (Paul Pietersberg), D Pretorius (Piet Retief), M Khuzwayo (Merchiston), R Swift (Merchiston), S Mngomezulu (Penzance) J vd Merwe (Merchiston), A Nkuma (Grantham Primary), R Viviers (Hutten Park), L vd Walt (Piet Retief).
Coach - S Accerman (St Henry’s), Asst Coach - Tinus Laatz (Glenwood Prep)