Westville Boys’ High School is one of the premier rugby schools in South Africa. The sport has been played at the school since it first opened its doors in 1955, although the first 1St XV only played for the first time in 1959. Over the last decade the 1st XV has regularly featured among the country’s Top 20 teams.
WBHS is able to turn out up to 30 rugby teams across the U14, U15, U16 and Open age groups, making it one the top ten largest rugby playing schools in the country.
WBHS has a number of traditional rivals in KZN, including Kearsney, Glenwood, Michaelhouse, DHS, Hilton, Maritzburg College, and Northwood. The annual school fixtures against Kearsney, Glenwood and Maritzburg College are Westville’s largest derbies. WBHS also plays a set of fixtures against KES and Pretoria Boys’ High School each year.
The 1st XV, 2nd XV, U16A, U15A and U14A are invited to play in festivals each year. The 1st XV has played in all the major festivals since 1990, including the St Stithians, St Johns, KES, Grey High and Kearsney festivals.
The 1st XV occasionally tours other countries. The team toured the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1966 and 1972, Australia and New Zealand in 1995, England, Wales and Ireland in 1998, Singapore, Canada and the USA in 2001 and Namibia in 2009.
WBHS started to develop a national profile from 2004 onwards. A key factor that contributed to the school’s success during this time was the establishment of the WBHS Sports Academy. The Academy, which was established in 2000, incorporates sport, including rugby, into the school timetable. Boys who elect to play rugby thus receive two hours of timetabled coaching during the school day in rugby season, besides from the usual afternoon team practices after the conclusion of the daily academic programme. The employment of a greater number of part-time and full-time coaches has also contributed to the schools achievements on the rugby field.
In 2004, the 1st XV, coached by Guy Coombe, a Westville old boy and former international Rugby League player, achieved spectacular success, losing only one game locally. Hugh Reece-Edwards, a former Natal and Springbok player, who started coaching the 1st XV in 2005, also coached the 1st XV to only one local loss in 2009. The 2013 1st XV, coached by Grant Bell, a Westville Old Boy, achieved an unbeaten domestic season for the first time in the school’s history.
Grant Bell is the Director of Rugby at the school, and is the assistant coach for the KZN Craven Week side. Torsten Sorensen heads up the High Performance Coaching arm in the Academy and is the assistant coach for the KZN U16 Grant Khomo team. The 2nd XV coach, Roland Norris is the assistant coach for the KZN U18 Academy Team.
The school employs two full time conditioning coaches and a full time video analyst to assist with the rugby programme across all ages. The school also has the use of a team of full time medical professionals, including a physiotherapist and a biokineticist, who operate out of a Medical Centre situated in the Bowden’s Pavilion.