Day 1 of the 3rd edition of the annual Jeffreys Bay Primary School Aloe Cup Tournament for /11 teams was not perfect. A few coaches complained that the weather was too hot and that rugby is supposed to be a winter sport. But that was the only complaints heard on a day that provided perfect weather and nail-biting rugby from the start.
The tournament grew from 8 to 12 teams this year and there was a change in the format with the teams being divided into an A& B division. The goal was to have more competitive games and to give the smaller schools a chance to play for a trophy on the last day of the tournament.
And the day delivered from the start. After the fun and games of the previous evening where the coaches and management played some social bowls (Congratulations to the Gene Louw team for the win) and had a lovely lamb spit meal the day started with a cracker of a match between the winners of the previous 2 years, Grey College and Durbanville. It was a titanic struggle between 2 teams that did not give an inch and the match ended in a draw – 7 points each. For Durbanville their inside centre, Christian van Zuydam caught the eye while the GCB eight-man AJ Booysen tackled tirelessly.
The second match featured the finalists from last year, Gene Louw, who was matched up against the local school from Uitenhage – Handhaaf. The huge Handhaaf pack dominated up front but in the end, the match was decided by the brilliance of the Gene Louw scrumhalf, J Britz, whose pace and skills was the driving force that allowed his team to edge the local team 14-12 in a great game.
And for the rest of the day, the A Division provided great match-ups. Probably the greatest surprise was Grey finishing last in their group after being comprehensively beaten by a motivated and skilful Beaumont Primary 24-10. For Beaumont, their centre pairing and the loose trio played blinders. Gene Louw managed another close win against newcomers Outeniqua 17-14, who also lost to Handhaaf in their second game with an identical 3 point margin 17-14. Durbanville clinched the top spot in their group by beating Beaumont 19-5, a bit of a surprise result after the Beaumont performance against Grey.
In the B division, Sunridge Primary from Port Elizabeth won both their games comprehensively and are favourites to win the Plate competition. The biggest surprise in the Plate competition was the performance of Graslaagte Primary from Humansdorp who beat both Knysna Primary and Stulting to end the group stage unbeaten.
The hosts Jeffreys Bay bounced back from a loss against Sunridge to beat Volkskool from Graaf-Reinet in an entertaining match to qualify for the semi-finals and a local derby match against Graslaagte.
As an indication of how competitive the matches in the Cup (A) competition was the 6 matches ended with an average winning margin of 6 points per game, and 4 of the 6 games were decided by 3 points or less.
Durbanville 7-7 Grey
Gene Louw 14-12 Handhaaf
Stulting 10-17 Knysna
JBay 10-35 Sunridge
Grey 10-24 Beaumont
Gene Louw 17-12 Outeniqua
JBay 20-10 Volkskool
Knysna 12-14 Graslaagte
Beaumont 5-19 Durbanville
Outeniqua 14-17 Handhaaf
Volkskool 5-43 Sunridge