Original article by Tom Parker from RugbyPass, link here.
The stellar line-up for the Cup competition at this year’s World Schools Festival is gathering pace with Ireland’s St Michael’s College and South African Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen joining reigning Welsh national champions, Cardiff and Vale College, and defending ASC English champions, Hartpury College.
One of the most eagerly awaited schools rugby tournaments will be held at Pattana Sports Resort in Thailand between December 12-17.
This international event features eight top schools from across the world competing in the Cup competition, with an Open Trophy competition being played as well.
The World Schools Festival is expected to be an incredible showcase for school rugby after the 2022 tournament featured some of the greatest rugby schools in the world.
St Michael’s College return on the back of a great domestic season so far, defeating rival Blackrock in a cliffhanger.
One of the leading feeder schools for Leinster’s academy, their rugby programme has produced multiple Ireland internationals who featured in this year’s Six Nations Grand Slam-winning team and at the Rugby World Cup in France.
EG Jansen from Gauteng will come to the WSF with high hopes after a successful season where the highlights were a 41-17 victory over Monnas and a runners-up spot in the Noordvaal Cup.
The EG Jansen squad will include their U16 class of 2022 when they ranked No3 in South Africa (behind Grey College and Paul Roos Gimnasium) and were unbeaten.
They will be a dark horse at this year’s World Schools, and a force in the South African schools rugby season in 2024 – do not be surprised to see them finish as a top-three team. In 2023 they ranked top 10 in South Africa despite the majority of the players being grade 11. This is a generational side.
The growth of the festival sees the expansion of the Open tournament with Rugby Travel Academy from South Africa returning to reconvene their battle from 2022 with Odyssey.
Sides from around the world took each other on in the tournament in 2022, with Grey College beating sides from England, Fiji and elsewhere.
New entrants Dubai Tigers RFC from the UAE are also looking forward to their first WSF experience. A new girls sevens tournament is also being launched, with Hartpury College travelling with two squads. Odyssey have also launched a girls sevens, with more teams to be announced.
The 2023 Festival promises to again embody the true spirit of rugby with players participating from 12 countries. For further information about WSF, visit www.worldschoolsfestival.com