Union High School


Union High School has made a significant contribution to rugby in the Eastern Cape. This is especially so as far as sportmanship and instilling the correct spirit of the game is concerned. We are proud of our Rugby traditions, and the boys who have graced our fields, setting the standard throughout the many years. We guard these traditions with much passion.

It's not so difficult to produce a good rugby player in, say a decade, but to produce good rugby players over a long period of time is a different matter. Yet Union High has done that. So said Danie Craven, long-time president of the South African Rugby Board. And Union High continues to do that, its rugby pedigree going back many decades. 

The tradition of excellence continues in the 21st century, with individual players and teams notching up impressive performances. Each year a number of boys are selected for various representative school boy sides. These boys have then moved on to attend Rugby Academies at the various rugby unions.

Although much has changed in South Africa the success of a rugby season is still judged by the number of matches won or lost and we are proud to have produced teams who have not only an excellent season but also more than held their own against some of their traditional rivals such as Graeme College, Muir College, St Andrew's College, St Andrew's College, Kingswood College, King Edward VII School as well as Hoër Volkskool.

Rugby - Results 2018

Date Match
1st XV lost 29 - 34
The first team let themselves down on Saturday, losing 29-34 to Gill College in Somerset East. Considering that we led 29-10 with a quarter of the game left, it was hugely disappointing that we did not come away with a victory.
Credit must go to Gill for the way in which they threw caution to the wind and forced us to panic and lose composure. We were far off the pace in the second half and made too many errors to build any kind of continuity or find any rhythm.
We did manage to score five tries which is a positive. Breyton Damons, Michael Krige, Matthew Broeksma, Ronan Retief and Terrence Siyaya all crossed the try-line.
With two matches left, lessons must be learnt from what happened and we will use every opportunity together this week to right the wrongs.
2nd Team won 17 - 7
U/16A won 14 - 8
U/15A won 48 - 5
U/14A won 12 - 5
23 - 25 June Cambridge Festival
UHS 1st XV vs Selbourne College:  lost 48 - 31
UHS 1st XV vs Fairmont High School:  won 45 - 14
The First rugby squad attended the Cambridge High 2018 Winter Sports Festival in East London over the June/July Holiday. The squad once again did themselves proud and were superb ambassadors for our school.
Our first match was against Selbourne College and was always going to be a huge challenge despite them not being at full strength. We stayed in the contest throughout and kept fighting until the bitter end. It was a match that entertained all that were present, and our side certainly exceeded expectations. We went down 31- 48 in the end. Our try scorers were Iviwe Ndamane, Matt Harpur, Ronan Retief and Matthew Broeksma.
Our Monday fixture was against Fairmont High School from Cape Town, who had lost by one point to Cambridge High on the Saturday. We clicked from the get-go and scored within the first minute of the match. We continued to play with conviction and purpose, taking every opportunity that came our way. We lead 38 – 0 at half-time. The second half was not as fluent, and we lost a bit of rhythm and allowed our opponents to score twice. We won the match 45 – 14. Tries were scored by Luke McNaughton, Luthando Skapu, Cowan Swartz, Michael Krige and Ronan Retief (2).
Many spectators complimented our boys on their brand of rugby and passion for the White Jersey. These were two very good results with our rugby boys continuing to ‘punch above their weight’ as is the Union way.
1st XV won 13 - 12
The First team was involved in an absolute humdinger of a match on Saturday in Grahamstown. We had to be at our absolute best for 70 minutes to grind out an unforgettable win against Graeme College. It was a match which encompassed everything schoolboy rugby should, from incredible handling skills, pin-point kicking, huge collisions, flair, precision and a nerve-racking finish which had every spectator on the edge of their seats.

Filled with belief and spurred on by the performance of our third and second teams, we got off to the perfect start. We scored an early try after Matt Harpur chased his own kick downfield and, through sheer will-power, managed to nudge the bouncing ball into the in-goal area and dive onto it for a five-pointer. Soon after the try, Matt slotted a penalty to stretch our lead to 8-0. Graeme continued to apply tremendous pressure at the breakdown and were rewarded with field position which they were able to convert into points after scoring a well-worked converted try.

Ahead by only one point at half-time, we started the second half with renewed energy levels and a burning desire to extend our lead. It was a matter of attacking at every opportunity rather than defending the slender advantage that we held. Through colossal effort and determination, we played our way into the Graeme territory and crossed over for another unconverted try. The try was scored by Daliwonga Mathiale after he cleverly picked up the ball at the base of the ruck and dotted it down before any opposition defender could react to his ingenuity. We now lead 13-7 with a quarter of the match remaining.
Soon after we scored, Graeme capitalized on our first and only lapse in concentration on defence to score a sublime try close to the left-hand touchline. The conversion was pushed wide, but the teams were again separated by just one point. After a tenacious defensive effort and praise worthy work ethic from backs and forwards alike, we held Graeme at bay for the last few minutes while they threw everything at us just 5 metres from our line.

There was an overwhelming sense of relief, as well as jubilation, when the referee blew his whistle to end what truly was an encounter that will remain etched in our memories for a long, long time.

2nds won 24 - 12
3rds lost 17 - 15
U/16A lost 39 - 12
U/15B lost 38 - 5
U/15A lost 53 - 5
U/14A lost 50 - 5
U/13A lost 51 - 5
U/11B lost 54 - 0
U/11A won 10 - 5
U/9A lost 56 - 0
The First Team were bitterly disappointed to go down 20 - 27 against Westering on Saturday. After leading 15 - 5 at half time, we seemed to panic when faced with a strong head-wind and repeatedly surrendered possession at critical times. We played into Westering’s hands and they did well to capitalise on their opportunities.

Our tries were scored by Olwethu Ngcai, Ben Kroon and Sibongiseni Baatjies.

Man of the match was Jason Beaumont, who tried his utmost best to give us forward momentum at set pieces and in the loose. As a tighthead, his work rate matched any loose forward on the field and he certainly left it all out there on the field.

We now have two weeks to right the wrongs and work towards filling in the missing puzzle pieces before our next encounter against Graeme College.
1st XV:  20 - 27
2nd Team:  45 - 5
U/16A:  43 - 0
U/15A:  17 - 15
U/14A:  24 - 19

U/15B vs Spanday:  7 - 29
Due to a flu epidemic at Cradock High School, 1st team and under 16 A rugby matches were cancelled.
U/14A:  17 - 33
U/15B:  49 - 19
U/15A:  24 - 12
2nd Team:  20 - 10
1st XV: 8 - 13
Conditions were not ideal and the cold, wet weather forced us into an unfamiliar playing style but, regardless, we let ourselves down on Saturday. We scored early and perhaps this lulled us into a false sense of security. Our opponents put us under tremendous pressure by holding onto possession and forcing us to make countless tackles. This took its toll on our energy levels when we did get the ball and we lost composure at crucial times. A lack of discipline in our half allowed them to edge their way ahead on the scoreboard and we could not recover.
Breyton Damons was the sole try scorer and Matt Harpur kicked a penalty. We certainly had our chances but failed to convert, losing the match 8-13.
Backline player of the match goes to Sibongiseni Baatjies who defended like a trojan and fought his hardest to get us on the front foot from set-pieces. The fact that his playing kit was barely recognisable was indicative of how committed he was throughout the game.
The best forward was Cleathon Koeberg, who grabbed only his second chance in the starting line-up with more than both hands. He punched above his weight with ball in hand and his physicality on defence proved that he is up to the challenge of wearing the White Jersey.
Hard work and soul-searching will be the order of the day over the next two weeks.

2nd Team: 17 – 12
U/16A: 24 – 10
U/15A: 24 – 17
U/14A: 35 – 19
1st XV:  24 - 21
The Union first team fought their way to a narrow 24 - 21 victory over Aliwal North on Saturday. In unusually warm conditions the boys struggled to build any continuity and made too many errors, which resulted in much frustration from the players themselves, as well as spectators. It was a real ding-dong battle with the lead changing several times. Fortunately, Union was able to score three excellent tries and dug deep on defence which secured the win against tough opposition.
Breyton Damons finished off an excellent passage of play to score Union’s first try. Cowan Swartz then showed his class by scoring two long range individual tries either side of halftime. Matt Harpur converted all three tries and kicked a penalty.
Backline player of the match once again goes to Cowan Swartz, who seems to glide through defences with ease and create scoring opportunities with every touch. Forward of the match was Gary Shell. He got through a mountain of hard work and stood his ground on both sides of the scrum. It wasn’t a fluent performance, but sometimes a close win builds character and mental toughness, which are things that can’t be coached. The team can be proud of themselves for winning, despite feeling that they weren’t at their best.
2nd Team:  34 - 5
U/16A:  21 - 0
U/15A:  0 - 12
U/14A:  19 - 5
Rugby vs Westering
U/13A:  5 - 27
1st XV:  36 - 15
We travelled to Uitenhage on Saturday to face our oldest rivals Muir College. In what is always a challenging encounter, we emerged as 21-point victors. The first half was a ding-dong battle and the lead changed several times throughout. On the stroke of half-time, we scored what will undoubtedly be a contender for try of the season. The move started with a counter-attack from deep inside our territory and saw us keeping the ball alive through brilliant support and clever interplay between backs and forwards. This meant we went into the break 26-15 ahead. We utilised a favourable wind in the second half and scored a further ten unanswered points to win the match 36-15.

Our tries were scored by Cowan Swartz, Breyton Damons, Jason Beaumont and Matt Harpur (2). Matt also kicked four conversions and a penalty, ending on a total of 21 points in the match.

Backline player of the match was awarded to Cowan Swartz who was exceptional on counter-attack and created opportunities each time he joined the line from fullback.  Forward of the match went to the hard-working Iviwe Ndamane. He was outstanding on defence and played a crucial, yet unnoticed, role on attack.

To beat Muir on their field is always a pleasing result and credit should go to the team for fighting through the difficult stages where things didn’t go to plan. We showed maturity and a desire to win which are huge positives. The team want to express their thanks to the rest of the rugby sides for the phenomenal support. If the cheering was a battle, we would have won that too.

Other results:
U/11A:  10 - 21
U/13 A:  7 - 52
U/14A:  10 - 22
U/15B:  25 - 19
U/15A:  6 - 50
U/16A:  56 - 17
3rds:  41 - 10
2nds:  26 - 26
29 - 31 March CALTEX / COLLEGE MOTORS Snr Rugby & Hockey Festival
1st VX vs Hoërskool Charlie Hofmeyr:  14 - 12
1st XV vs Hoërskool Grens:  25 - 8
In their first fixture on Thursday, Union played against Hoërskool Charlie Hofmeyer. In what was more mud wrestling than rugby, the Union boys managed to grind out a two-point victory. The game hung in the balance for the full 70 minutes with neither team giving an inch. The heavy rain resulted in it being a hard fought battle of attrition, where field position and minimising errors were the order of the day. Union scored two tries through Luthando Skapu and Iviwe Ndamane, both players showing exceptional skill to cross the whitewash. Matt Harpur converted both tries, which proved to be the difference at the final whistle. It was a satisfying 14-12 win for Union against a side that had convincingly beaten them the year before.

In the final match of the festival on Saturday, the Union boys took on Hoërskool Grens from East London. Fortunately, the weather was conducive to running rugby and Union was able to play a more expansive pattern which was pleasing to the spectators. Union were again forced to work extremely hard against quality opposition. Both teams scored an unconverted try in the first half and kicked a penalty goal to make it 8-8 at the half-time break. The Union team started the second half brilliantly, spreading the ball from point to point, forcing their opponents to make numerous tackles and cover loads of ground on defence. Union executed the plan to perfection and eventually ran in a further two tries as the Grens defenders seemed to tire somewhat. The boys were solid on defence and capitalised on their opportunities on attack to win the game 25-8. Union’s tries were scored by Cowan Swartz, Ikhona Koeberg and Luke McNaughton. Matt Harpur converted two tries and two penalties.
24 March GRAEME COLLEGE RUGBY DAY (Grahamstown)
UHS 1st XV vs Cambridge:  17 - 14
Cambridge scored an early try against the run of play after a poor kick chase from us. We were able to hit back right away with a try of our own by Matteo Mahona. He scored after a superbly executed set piece move by the backline which saw Breyton Damons cutting the opposition defence like a hot blade through butter. Breyton ran fifty meters before being dragged down one meter short and popping the ball to Matteo who ran the perfect support line like all open side flanks should. Soon after this try, we again pulled off a set piece move to allow Breyton to walk over untouched in the corner. Matt Harpur converted both tries and a penalty to give us a 17-7 lead at the break.
Cambridge did all the attacking in the second half as we struggled to hold onto possession. We needed to show huge character on defence. Some gutsy tackling and an immense work rate allowed us to withstand wave after wave of Cambridge offense. They did eventually cross over for a converted try but it was too little too late, with us emerging 17-14 victors.
Forward of the match goes to Matthew Broeksma who again led from the front. His effort from the base of the scrum was extraordinary and as always had a massive presence on defence.  Backline player of the match goes to Ronan Retief, who was colossal in stopping opposition momentum. He made arguably the biggest hit of the day and a few more which had the crowd clenching their teeth at the impact.
17 March Rugby vs St Andrews (Bloemfontein)
1st XI
The 1st XV had a very disappointing outing to Bloemfontein over the weekend. After a good start, the Union boys took and early 7 – 3 lead, when Breyton Damons crossed over for a concerted try in the 10th minute. Matt Harpur scored midway through the second half, and Union found themselves 12 – 9 ahead, with 15 minutes to play. Despite scoring two tries to St Andrews’ one, penalties proved to be the difference, and St Andrews eventually won the match 19 – 12.  It was a bitter pill to swallow, but the Union boys have learnt valuable lessons, which will no doubt drive them to improve and get back to winning ways.
Other Results:
2nd Team:  36 - 7
U/14:  17 - 10
U/15:  12 - 27
U/16:  19 -12
10 March 1st XV (Gill Sports Day):  Union's 1st XV kicked off their season with a beautiful display of rugby, winning their match against Andrew Rabie 34 - 3.
U/16 team  (Gill Sports Day)won 41 -21 against Aeroville Sekondêr.
U/14A (Grens Rugby Festival)
-  vs Stirling:  27 – 47
-  vs Port Rex:  43 – 15
U/13A Grens Rugby Festival)
-  vs Nahoon:  17 - 0
-  vs Lilyfontein:  0 - 5