Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival 2014

It’s Saturday morning on the long Easter Weekend and, still suffering from the sugar rush caused by the previous days’ festivities, I open my eyes and peer reluctantly at the alarm clock radio looming ominously back at me from the side of the bed. 9:30 it says with it’s big red numbers, and there is no getting away from it – the day is well and truly under way without me. I’ve overslept, but in my defence I had consumed one too many Easter Eggs and my body, in it’s old age, must have been struggling to process all that sugar so it decided to shut down.

I manage to peel myself from the covers ( it is a beautiful day outside), as I have been secretly looking forward to this morning all week. A fresh cup of java and a nice, refreshing shower later and I’m up and ready to tackle the world.

You see, it’s the 7th annual Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival. Hosted, as the name implies, for 3 days over the long Easter Weekend between the 17th and 21st of April, I’ve been given the enviable task of attending the event and capturing the multitude of Expand a Sign products that were on display. The festival is a showcase for the best that High School Rugby has to offer in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa and surrounding provinces, the “crème-de-la-crème” as the brochure eloquently stated. So I’m looking forward to some good old-fashioned grass roots rugby. There are about 12 or 13 schools in attendance; Kearsney (naturally), Glenwood and Westville Boys’ High, but the vast majority I don’t know even existed. Such as Monument, Greys, Nico Malan and HTS Middelburg.

A quick stop in Kloof to pick up the Mrs (somebody has to carry my camera equipment around!) and I’m up the hill. Two of them, to be exact. After quite a scenic drive along the Thousand Hills tourist route and a rather dramatic elevation change, we are finally at our destination.

“R50 for parking please”, the lovely old lady says as I reach the main gate. I catch a glimpse of the Mrs rolling her eyes at me as I utter a few unpleasant words under my breath at the prospect of parting with so much dosh for parking at a glorified High School game. She has always thought I was a bit of a Scrooge but nonetheless, I pay the exorbitant parking fee and enter the grounds where I am ushered to my neat little parking bay on an open, well manicured field by little school kids and rather well-dressed car guards. This quickly sets the tone for things to come. Parked amidst fancy SUVs and luxury German Sedans, it is clear that this was no ordinary “school” festival; this operation is well organised and a far cry from what I was accustomed to during my high school days where all you got was a flimsy programme on photocopy paper and a seat on a rickety old grandstand…if you were lucky.

Everything about the event is top notch; the games are frantic and exciting and I manage to catch two games whilst performing my cameraman duties: Glenwood vs. EG Jansen (31 – 18 to Glenwood) and Grey College vs. Westville (32 – 20 to Grey). I thoroughly enjoy every last minute of the games and the Expand a Sign branded banners, Ex-ShadesFlying Banners and Gazebos of the numerous sponsors in attendance, provide the perfect backdrop for this event. The main sponsors being Nashua, Illovo, SAB Castle Lager and The Sharks Academy. The quality of our products really stand out and a good 70 – 80% of the soft signage is proudly Expand a Sign! I even spot the odd WondaSign which is nice, as I had never seen this innovative new product out on display.

I am not able to attend the final match two days later, on Monday 21st April, as my old age had reared it’s ugly head and I opted to curl up snuggly in the foetal position and follow the nail biting final between Grey College and Monument on the various Social Media platforms, that saw neither team being able to better the other after a gruelling 80 minutes of rugby that culminated in a 10-all draw. Which, although a bit disappointing to some, is testament to the calibre of rugby played by each of these two teams.

That is not all that this epic Rugby Festival had to offer though. The Sharks Academy were in attendance to award bursaries to deserving players who stood out during the festival. But due to the high standard of play, bursaries were awarded to five boys instead of three.  Well done to those boys – they thoroughly deserved it.

All in all, it was not a bad way to spend the weekend. Great rugby, great company and great branding…I cannot wait to see what next year has in store for us.

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