Union High School

Rugby

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 2017

Date Match
19 August UHS vs Grens
1st XV:  The First Team lost 31-41 in a ding-dong battle against Grens in East London on Saturday. After the high of last weekend’s Interschools win and suffering five injuries, we made a slow start and found ourselves trailing 12-31 before half-time. Their enormous backs dominated the gain line and forced us into making uncharacteristic errors on defence and attack. Two of their tries came through interceptions against the run of play which was heart-breaking. With the wind at our backs in the second half, we increased the tempo of the game to force their big players to work hard without much rest. This style of play gave us renewed energy and momentum swung completely in our favour. Some incredible attack got us within five points at 31-36 before Grens scored the try which sealed their victory.
Ross Stanley led from the front, scoring a hat-trick and being influential throughout the match. Cohen Pieterse and Iviwe Ndamane were our other try scorers, both rounding off superb team plays.
It was perhaps not the ideal ending to the season, but we can be proud of the way we fought back and it certainly was a spectacle for all present.
2nd Team:  12 - 5
U/16A:  12 - 32
U/15A:  0 - 69
U/14A:  0 - 52
12 August INTERSCHOOLS
5 August UHS vs Pearson
The 1st team went down 3-36 to a very strong Pearson side on Saturday. After losing both our locks to injury inside the first 10 minutes, Union seemed unsettled and our initial plans disrupted. We did well to stay in the contest despite gifting the opposition points. The halftime score was 3-16, and we felt like momentum had shifted slightly in our favour. Pearson were relentless on defense and we had few opportunities in their territory. They capitalised on our poor execution in tough conditions and stretched their lead beyond our reach. Our team must be commended for their efforts and for the fact that we put up a fight until the bitter end. David Macozoma and Mtha Mzimba, must be applauded for playing almost two full matches without much rest.

All that is left is for us to bounce back up and prepare for the challenge that lies ahead of us this weekend.

Results
1st XV:  3 - 36
2nd:  27 - 26
U/16A:  5 - 19
U/15A:  0 - 61
U/15B: 0 - 59
U/14A: 0 - 70
29 July UHS vs Gill College
1st XV:  24 - 21
The First team were involved in a nail-biting encounter with Gill College on Saturday. The effects of the three-week holiday were evident from the outset with us making far too many unforced errors, two of which led to tries for the opposition. We found ourselves 0-12 down after 10 minutes. Fortunately, we regrouped well as a team and showed a lot of character to claw our way back into the contest. Cowan Swartz and Luthando Skapu scored outstanding individual tries which kept us within reach at half-time. Gill stretched their lead to 10-18 before Ross Stanley crossed the line for our third try. After another Gill penalty, we were trailing 17-21 with just a couple minutes left in the game. We did incredibly well to work our way downfield and maintain possession in a high-pressure situation. With the final move of the game, Cohen Pieterse once again displayed his finishing abilities to score the match-winning try. Matt Harpur converted to bring the final score to 24-21.
The team must be commended on their never-say-die attitude and the way they kept composure under tremendous pressure. The support from the school definitely helped and is always much appreciated.
2nd Team:  29 - 5
U/16A:  8 - 3
U/15A:  17 - 0
U/14A:  33 - 5
U/13A:  10 - 7
U/13B:  17 - 0
24 June UHS vs Graeme College
The First Team lost 19 - 43 to a strong Graeme College side on Saturday. Despite the bloated score line, it was an excellent spectacle with both sides playing quality rugby. We were competitive throughout the match and scored two brilliantly constructed tries through Matthew Broeksma and Cohen Pieterse. Matt Harpur kicked three penalties. The difference between the two teams was perhaps the fact that our opponents were ruthless on counter-attack each time we surrendered possession through an error. If we had just reduced our number of unforced errors in the opposition territory, we might have been able to convert our dominant possession into points. This is certainly a valuable lesson we have learnt going into the next part of the season in the Third Term.

1st XV:  19 - 43
2nd Team:  5 - 56
U/16A:  34 - 31
3rd Team:  7 - 55
U/15A:  10 - 38
U/15B:  0 - 5
U/14A:  14 - 38
U/13A:  17 - 38
U/13B:  14 - 52
U/11A:  19 - 21
10 June UHS vs Westering
The First team played against Westering in an away fixture on Saturday. Conditions were challenging and it seemed to disrupt us and throw us off our game. After scoring two excellent tries early on through Matt Harpur and Ross Stanley, we lost our focus and got distracted by off the ball happenings. We made far too many errors and conceded regular turnovers at the breakdown, which allowed the opponents to dictate the game and keep us pinned in our territory. Trailing 12-17 with 5 minutes remaining in the match, Terrence Siyaya barged over the line from close range to level the scores. Matt Harpur held his nerve to convert, giving us a slender 2-point lead. We fortunately held on to win the match 19-17.
1st XV:  19 - 17
2nd:  55 - 25
U/16:  41 - 5
U/15:  29 - 12
U/14:  14 - 14
3 June UHS vs Winterberg Agricultural High School
In what were less than ideal conditions, the Union 1st rugby team managed to beat Winterberg 44 – 15. With the wind at their back, Union dominated territory and possession to gain a 27 – 8 lead at half-time. The Union boys seemed to stray from their plans in the second half and made basic errors. This allowed Winterberg to utilise the conditions and put Union under pressure. Once they had regained composure and simplified their attack, Union was able to stretch their lead and close the game. The Union try scorers were Ross Stanley (2), Matt Harpur (2), Luthando Skapu, Cowan Swartz and Matthew Broeksma.
1st XV:  44 - 15
2nd:  15 - 10
U/16:  34 - 15
U/15:  7 - 23
U/14:  14 - 10
27 May UHS vs Cradock
Union’s first team put together a much improved performance to beat Cradock 47-8. After a slow start Union went into halftime with a 19-8 lead. Playing against the wind in the second half seemed to assist the team’s ball-in-hand approach and they ran in a further 4 tries. The pleasing aspect was the fact that the Union boys managed to maintain possession and go through several phases to create space and numbers on attack. The fact that the majority of the 7 tries were scored around the outside of the Cradock defensive line was testimony of the fact that the team played with width and gave the ball air. It was also evidence of some good decision-making by backs and forwards alike. Tries were scored by Cowan Swartz, Thando Haarmans, Terrence Siyaya, Cohen Pieterse, Matthew Broeksma and Ross Stanley (x2). Matt Harpur had a good day with the boot, converting 6 out of 7 attempts. Congratulations to Cameron Muir on earning his first cap off the bench.
2nd Team:  40 - 5
U/16:  39 - 12
U/14:  24 - 12
13 May UHS vs Kingswood
1st XI:  15 - 36
The First Team match against Kingswood was a game of “could have’s”. We started poorly, allowing Kingswood to take a 19-point lead in the first 20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes before half-time, we managed to string together a couple of phases which led to Michael Krige scoring in the right-hand corner. This swung momentum in our favour and we came out firing after the break. We scored two excellent tries, through Iviwe Ndamane and Cowan Swartz, after displaying urgency to retain possession and good appreciation of where the space was.
Unfortunately, we made basic errors on attack and some poor decision-making presented Kingswood with field position and try-scoring opportunities. They capitalised on these chances and added a further 3 tries to their 3 in the first half.
We were disappointed with the final score of 15-36 because we realised that if we had reduced our mistakes and taken the easy options when under pressure, we might have been in with a shout at victory. It was not to be and we acknowledge that Kingswood were more clinical and accurate which made the difference at the end of the game.

2nd Team:  0 - 47
3rd Team:  5 - 31
U/16A:  7 - 55
U/15A:  16 - 36
U/15B:  24 - 12
U/14A:  0 - 56
6 May UHS vs Aliwal North High School
1st XV:  17 - 17
2nd Team:  48 - 5
U/16:  24 - 28
U/15:  5 - 41
U/14:  9 - 14
26 April UHS vs VP
1st XV:  On Wednesday, Union’s 1st XV played against Victoria Park and managed to pull off another comeback in the second half to win 24 – 14. Union trailed 11 – 14 at half-time, after an error-filled first half. The boys battled to play with any continuity and were inaccurate in set-pieces. Wiegard Brummer scored the only try in the first half off the back of a maul. Fortunately, two moments of brilliance from Ross Stanley late in the game, allowed Union to take the lead and finish as victors.
It was certainly not Union’s best performance and hopeful the long weekend helped the boys to come back with renewed energy and focus for the remaining fixtures.

2nd Team:  19 - 12
22 April UHS vs Muir College
Union High’s 1st XV played Muir College in a thrilling encounter this weekend. After trailing for much of 70 minutes, Union managed to claw their way back into the match and emerged victorious by one point.
The Union team started brilliantly, with what could be the try of the season thus far, when Ikhona Koeberg finished off a counter-attack from inside Union’s own 22m. Muir soon scored a try of their own, to add to an earlier penalty. After the break, Union’s Ross Stanley scored our second try, when the backline executed a set piece to perfection. Unfortunately, Union allowed Muir to score shortly after this, which saw them take a 6-point lead. Some gutsy defence kept Union within reach and seemed to frustrate the opposition.
Union were down 14 – 20 deep into the second half when Kyle Sparks went over to score a well-constructed team try. Matt Harpur held his nerve from the touchline to kick what proved to be a match-winning conversion. Union held on to their slender lead for the remaining few minutes to win the game 21 – 20.

2nds vs Muir:  10 - 15
U/16A vs Muir:  10 - 27
3rd vs Muir:  5 - 29
U/15A vs Muir:  15 - 17
U/15B vs Muir:  15 - 17
U/14 A vs Muir:  10 - 17
U/13A vs Muir:  22 - 24
U/13B vs Muir:  5 - 17
1 - 3 April UHS Senior Rugby & Hockey Festival
On Saturday, we played against Cambridge in what was an eagerly anticipated clash. Our team looked forward to playing at home and this was evident in the way they approached the match. We played with commitment and passion to secure a 13 – 5 victory. Cambridge was physically bigger but we managed to disrupt their attack with excellent defence and intensity throughout. Ross Stanley finished off a well-constructed team try in the first half to put us ahead. The momentum switched back and forth with Cambridge scoring just before half time. Unfortunately, we could not convert pressure into points but rather missed out on what should have been certain tries. Our handling and impatience caused frustration from players and supporters alike. Fortunately, a second half try by Cohen Pieterse and converted penalty by Matt Harpur gave us a two-score cushion and we managed to hang onto this until the final whistle.

Monday’s match against Charlie Hofmeyer was a disappointing one for us. We seemed flat-footed and put in a lacklustre performance. We could not control possession and our intensity on defence was far off the pace. Unforced errors at critical moments hurt us and we could not find our rhythm as a result. Our opponents capitalised on our failure to protect the ball and used their opportunities better than we did. We lost the match 17 – 39. Ross Stanley scored a good individual try and Ikhona Koeberg did well to finish off our most promising passage of play, dotting down underneath the posts. Matt Harpur kicked two conversions and a penalty.
25 March 1st XV - Graeme day
The first rugby team travelled to Grahamstown this weekend to play against Nico Malan at the Graeme College Rugby Day. Union went down 18-50. Ikhona Koeberg and Matt Harpur scored our tries.
Despite another heavy loss there were improvement and new players gained valuable experience at first team level. We look forward to being back on our home turf for our fixtures during the 30th Annual Senior Rugby festival next weekend. We are eager and excited to put in two good performances.
18 March UHS vs St Andrews College
The Union 1st XV played against St Andrews College on Saturday in what was expected to be a huge challenge for them. Union were certainly underdogs but relished the opportunity to test themselves against an all-boys school with a rich rugby tradition. Having to travel to Grahamstown and being only their second match of the season, it turned out to be a tough ask of our boys.
In typical Union style, they threw all that they had at their opponents and played for the full 70 minutes. Union dominated possession, but just could not convert pressure into points. Rather, it seemed like every time they were on the brink of scoring, St Andrews would turn over possession and score at the other end of the field. The physical disadvantage took its toll on us in the second half and this allowed the opponents to score soft tries towards the end of the match. The final score was 10-66. Terrance Siyaya scored our only try.
Although a heavy defeat is never an easy pill to swallow, the Union boys have learnt heaps and gained invaluable experience from playing against a quality side. This will stand them in good stead as the season progresses.
Other Results
2nd Team lost 57 - 0
U/16A lost 72 - 3
U/15A lost 55 - 0
U/14A lost 34 - 3
11 March Derby day vs St Andrews (Bloemfontein)
1st XV:  UHS won 38-8
With 10 debutants in the team, a few nerves were to be expected but the manner in which we composed ourselves and never let the opponents into the game was very pleasing. Our discipline let us down at times and this is something we will have to eradicate before our next fixture. We showed maturity for this early stage and showed glimpses of what we are capable of. Tries were scored by Olwethu Ncgai, Daliwonga Mathiale, Cowan Swartz, Cohen Pieterse and Ocean Wilma.

The forwards man of the match goes to Matthew Broeksma for his tremendous work ethic and commitment in the tight. Amongst some very good performances by the backs, Cowan Swartz was outstanding, and gets the nod for backline man of the match.

2nd Team:  UHS won 27-23
U/16A:  UHS won 62-7
U/15A:  UHS won 10-7
U/14A:  UHS won 49-15