Rye Boys Varsity Rugby, an eight year old program ranked 17th in the country, will host the rugby team from St. Andrew’s College, a private boarding and day school in Makhanda (Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, on Wednesday at Nugent Stadium.
“We’re very excited and it’s a huge honor,” said Rye Boys Varsity Rugby Coach Jim O’Hara. “We’d love to get a huge crowd from all of our schools to watch what I believe is the first ever international athletic event in our school’s history.”
The match is at 3:45pm Wednesday at Rye High School’s Nugent Stadium (the match will be viewable online).
Rugby is the national sport of South Africa. The St. Andrew’s College program (it is a high school even though they call it a college) is over 100 years old and has produced many professional and international players.
Many people might remember the Matt Damon movie “Invictus” – a true story about the 1995 Rugby World Cup which portrays just how important the game is to South African culture. The national team known as the Springboks played an integral role in the post-Apartheid era under Nelson Mandela.
St. Andrew’s is only visiting three schools in America and Rye is one of them. A South African high school has never toured the United States before. Their coach reached out to the Rye High School rugby coach Jim O’Hara in the fall and he jumped at the chance to host St. Andrew’s.
“We know that this event will help build connections between players, coaches, and our schools that will last for years to come,” said O’Hara. “As is tradition in rugby, we hope to return the favor and visit their school one day!”
As hosts, Rye will be taking the team to the Yankee Game on Tuesday night and then the players will shadow the team during the day on Wednesday. Headmaster Tom Hamilton of St. Andrew’s will also be in attendance.