Tygerberg High School have claimed their third Villager Schools Sevens title in a row after they beat Bishops High School, 26 – 24, in a pulsating final befitting the tournaments original aims of encouraging attacking rugby and freedom of expression. The half time score was 14 – 10 in their favour.
Tygerberg began their ascent easily enough when they overcame Bishops ‘C’ team 38 – 12 in the first round and then cruised past Primrose ‘A’ 24 – 0 in the second round. However with new additions to the tournament, Paul Roos, on the horizon in the quarter finals and Paarl Gim in the semi-finals, their road to the final would be fraught with difficulty.
The quarter final between the “Tiere” and Paul Roos was eagerly awaited by the supporters at Brookside, with both teams equally skilful and physical, their matchup was befitting of a final. The game was played at a blistering pace with Tygerberg scoring first, following it up with another shortly after to take a 10 – 0 lead. However Paul Roos were not easily beaten and came back superbly with a converted try just before half time. The second half proved to be just as exciting with the lead changing hands twice after Paul Roos scored first, but with time running out Tygerberg scored with very little time left on the clock to clinch a 17 – 14 win.
Although the defending champions proved their worth against Paul Roos, Paarl Gim would pose a different set of challenges with their superbly conditioned players in the semi-final. With their previous encounter seemingly taking its toll, Tygerberg conceded 17 points to Gim before knew what hit them. They would have to dig deep to engender their never-say-die attitude which has become a hallmark of their game over the last few years. Somehow with half time looming Tygerberg did just that and scored a great try to give them some semblance of hope going into the half.
With momentum on their side, the Tiere scored two tries in two minutes after the break to equalise the scores at 17 all. One would have thought that with the scores level the next team to score would emerge victorious, however when Gim scored again to claim a 22 – 17 lead going into the final few minutes, the Tygerberg belief really kicked in. With time almost up, they proved their mettle by scoring a long range chip and chase try under the sticks to claim one of their more important wins in the tournaments history to set up their third final in as many years.
The Bishops journey on the other hand started off in a similar fashion to Tygerberg when they convincingly beat Fish Hoek ‘B’ 59 -0 to set up a second round fixture against Drakenstein. With Bishops as 20 times winners of the Villager Sevens tournament and the fact they had a good season locally, one would think they would have the better of Drakenstein. However with sevens being the game it is, upsets are always on the cards, but with Bishops possessing superb rugby players, they claimed a nerve wrecking 21 – 17 win over their less fancied rivals.
With Tygerberg RFC claiming an upset win over SACS ‘A’ in the second round, Bishops faced an easier quarter final against the spirited but out-classed Tygerberg based club side. With victory secured in the quarters after their 33 – 12 win, Bishops faced far tougher opponents in the form of JAG Excelsior, one of the tournaments better performing teams. Although Bishops struggled against JAG at times they were full value for their 19 – 14 win, a result that set them up against perennial winners, Tygerberg High School in the final.
With the Bishops attacking skills up against the seasoned sevens veterans, the 46th Villager Schools Sevens final was shaping up to be one of the more exciting games of recent years. And so it proved when Bishops burst out of the blocks and raced to a 10 point lead courtesy of tries by Saud Abrahams and Keenan Jacobs. However, with Tygerberg evidently determined to retain their title, they struck back soon after with a converted try of their own to narrow the scores to three. With the Tiere on top, they scored another from a deft chip kick, a tactic they used successfully in their earlier games and one that Bishops should have seen coming.
With a 14 – 10 lead at half time, the Tiere went further ahead early in the second half with another try to make it 19 – 10 in their favour. Trailing by nine, Bishops scored next though Jesse Wilensky to narrow the scores to two. Tygerberg however were not going to allow their lead to slip and scored soon after to reclaim their nine point lead. Bishops were not done yet however and struck back through Mervano da Silva after superb vintage Bishops handling. With nothing to lose Bishops launched wave after wave of desperate attack only to be thwarted by a forward pass on their way to scoring the winning try. With the final whistle sounding soon after, Tygerberg High School were confirmed as Villager Schools Champions for the third successive time.
In the Plate competition, Milnerton claimed the trophy winning 14 – 0 over Ziishukanyo in an exciting final on the A field. Milnerton seemingly had a strong side this year as their 54 – 0, 59 – 12 and 33 – 14 thrashing of Parklands ‘B’, Fish Hoek ‘B’ and Belhar respectively proves. Ziishukanyo on the other hand had a slightly more challenging road facing up against SACS ‘B’ in the first round of the plate winning 50 – 17, followed by Westerford in the quarter finals, a game they only just won 14 – 12, and the Western Cape Sport School proving even harder with only a 7 – 5 win.
All told the 46th Villager Schools Sevens was a great success as for unknown reasons the weather decided to play its part this year and provided a glorious spring day with barely a breath of wind for the players and spectators alike to enjoy. The weather aside, the spectators were treated to a great feast of school boy running rugby, and with the addition of the Boland schools for the first time, some of the later games were closer and more exciting than usual, a good sign for the future of this tournament.
The organisers would like to thank our sponsors, especially Sportsmans Warehouse for their continued support since the tournaments inception. We would also like to thank all the teams, their coaches, managers and especially their players for taking part. We also must thank the WP Referees, under the tutelage of Ben Teron, for their outstanding efforts out in the middle. Without the referees games would not take place and for that we are most appreciative. We also thank Action Pix Photography for their efforts in taking over 1000 pictures of the players during the games, as well as the runners, ball boys and anyone who helped make the tournament a success. Not forgetting of course the efforts of Dave Edwards, George Snowball and Rameez Ismail in the back offices of Villager FC.
Finally we also would like to thank Springbok 7s Captain, Kyle Brown, as well as former Springbok 7s player, Paul Delport, for handing out the trophies and medals after the finals. Both are incredible ambassadors for the 7s game and we know the players appreciate your presence at the tournament.
We look forward to hosting you next year at Brookside, the home of the Dirty Whites.
Courtesy of Action Pix Photography