Gearing up for K-Day in Grahamstown

THE annual derby between St Andrew’s College, Diocesan School for Girls (DSG), DSG Junior, St Andrew’s Prep and Kingswood College, which over the years has become known as K-Day, started on Monday and culminates on Saturday June 16.

BREAKING THE LINE: Kingswood College first rugby team smashed the St Andrew’s College boys two years ago in their first victory on home ground since 1962 during the K-Day sports festival

The exact origins of the term “K-Day” are not known but according to the St Andrew’s College archives, the first mention of K-Day was in 1995 in an internal memo to College staff written by André Jacobs, the 1st XV rugby coach at the time. It is interesting to note that newspaper clippings from 1995 refer to the event as a derby but that from 1996, all media coverage refers to the fixture as K-Day. It is our opinion that Mr Jacobs used this abbreviated term for convenience and it has now become part of the local vernacular.

The seeds of the long standing rivalry between the two schools were sown as far back as 1898 when the first clash took place on the rugby field, and the over the years the importance of the derby has not diminished. Today, its reputation as one of the country’s best known school derbies remains intact. The two schools take turns in hosting the K-Day fixtures with this year being hosted again by DSG, St Andrew’s College and St Andrew’s Prep, this out of sequence, in order to facilitate Kingswood College hosting K-Day next year as part of their 125 year celebrations.

During the week, the schools (and indeed the whole town) buzz with anticipation – not only for the eagerly contested sports fixtures, but also for the many visitors and Old Boys and Girls who arrive in Grahamstown where they renew friendships forged on the sports field during their school days. Parents from as far afield as Zambia, Kenya, Namibia and even overseas will also come to Grahamstown for the weekend to support their sons and daughters and be part of the prevailing festive atmosphere. The final game – the 1st XV rugby match – is expected to be watched by some 8 000 people.

So what is K-Day? It comprises:

  • Up to 80 matches of various sporting codes played over four days
  • More than 1 000 school pupils ranging in age from 8 – 19 taking part
  • Hundreds of visiting parents and alumni of the schools (many of whom return for reunions during the K-Day weekend)
  • Old DSG, Old Andrean and Old Kingswoodian sports fixtures
  • Lots of sportsmanship and friendship.
Katy Lane drives forward with the ball for DSG during last year’s K-Day fixture in Grahamstown. The game played out to a 1-1 draw

While K-Day will culminate in the rugby clash between the 1st XVs of St Andrew’s College and Kingswood on Saturday, it is about so much more than just rugby.   K-Day officially started on the preceding Monday, with squash matches being played between the three schools, Tuesday saw Inter-school debating taking place, Thursday saw all the senior boys hockey taking place, as well as a combined music concert in the evening.

Friday sees Inter-school golf taking place, along with all the junior boys’ hockey and the girls’ netball. Saturday is all about the girls’ hockey and the boys’ rugby. While all the sport is taken seriously and the competition is intense, ultimately, the schools have a relationship of collegiality and cooperation.

There are a number of K-Day traditions that are dear to the schools, the quaintest of which is when the schools challenge each other across the sleepy hollow of Grahamstown with their respective war cries on the Friday evening. The sounds of passionate pupils cheering for their respective schools can be heard echoing into the night air. Another tradition is that of the Grade 8 girls from each school performing a dance before the girls’ 1st X1 hockey matches: the girls spend hours practicing their routines to make sure they are perfect on the day.

At a time when school sport has become ultra-competitive and players are sometimes driven to extreme measures to enhance their performance, we trust that all those involved in this long-standing annual derby between kindred schools in the same town – participants, coaches, staff, Old Boys and Old Girls and parents – will recognise the meaning of the day and will retain all the camaraderie, atmosphere and genuine fun that was intended when it started back in 1898!

On behalf of St Andrew’s College, The DSG and St Andrew’s Prep we welcome all the boys and girls, parents, old boys and old girls and interested townsfolk to our campus. We hope that you have a wonderful week of festive sporting involvement.

Pete Andrew, Director of Sport, St Andrew’s College

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