History of St Andrew’s College Waterpolo

History of Waterpolo   (as at May 2017)

The first known waterpolo game that College participated in was in 1952, when a mixed staff/pupil swimming team played against a Rhodes University side.

There is no mention of waterpolo in the school magazines until 1963, when the sport was established at College “on an informal basis”. A report in The Andrean magazine (Michaelmas Term, 1963) by Terry Stevens, who was Master-in-Charge of Swimming at the time, reads:  “Under their own steam the boys have got water-polo going again this term. The organisation is loose and informal but it will receive more support in the future. A set of caps has been obtained and the boys have again constructed some very wobbly goals. We shall try to do something more permanent in the way of removable posts when finances permit. Properly controlled this can be a fine game. It is played by schools throughout Rhodesia and by some in the Transvaal and Natal. However, our aim will be to keep it in a very minor role as an interesting sideline to swimming and as a means of getting fit without the monotony of swimming too many lengths up and down the bath. However, one must hastily add that there is no alternative for the swimmer who wishes to become a champion. This is not the first time water-polo has been started at College for in 1952 a mixed staff and boy side drew with Rhodes 6-6. In that side was Rob Connacher, who subsequently captained the Springbok Lifesavers for the tour of Britain.”

The first inter-house competition was played in 1965 with Mullins and Merriman playing in the final. Mullins were the victors, beating Merriman 3-2 and a trophy was donated by T.Q. Harvey (OA 1908). According to The Andrean magazine (Michaelmas Term, 1965):  “…. the competition was organised on a knock-out basis. The standard achieved was remarkably good for a first time and a notable feature was the lack of fouling. As long as this lasts, waterpolo will be enjoyable and worthwhile. Furthermore it can do a great deal of good for our swimming, as long as its importance is not over-emphasised next term. It must remain a third term game. Lastly those involved next year must put on their thinking caps and find a time suitable that will not interfere at all with cricket.”

The first known waterpolo match against another school was a friendly against Graeme College prior to the first inter-house match in 1965.  “The game against Graeme was most enjoyable and College never led until they scored their eighth goal in the last quarter. They held on to win 8-7 but the score didn’t matter in the least compared to the spirit that prevailed.” (The Andrean, Michaelmas Term 1965)

In 1966 waterpolo was well established at College, being the first year that the sport was played on a league system. Matches against other schools were organised and the first all boy match against a Rhodes University team took place.

In 1967 Kingswood played its first match against St Andrew’s. Here is a quote from the 1967 copy of The Andrean (Michaelmas Term), under a heading “Enthusiasm for Water-Polo”:  “There is so much enthusiasm amongst all the different age groups of the school that almost any afternoon of the week there will be a “pick-up” game in full swing. There will be second years, and even new boys playing together with seniors and prefects, whilst someone not playing that quarter will be reffing. These games are far from “free-for-alls”; they are orderly and, best of all, the game is being played for the share pleasure of playing.”

In 1976 the school decided not to take part in the Eastern Province Inter-Schools Waterpolo fixture as it fell too close to the Matric examinations. Despite the absence of College boys at the championships, the EP Selectors included four players in the EP Team on their showing in the previous two matches. The four were NEM Jacobs, WD Kirstein, GC Harvey and JM Green.

In 1980 the Games Committee approved the playing of waterpolo in both the 1st and 3rd terms whereas it had only previously been played in the last quarter of each year.

In 1983 College entered the EP Schools Waterpolo League for the first time. Keith Anderson and Anthony Jacobs were selected to represent Eastern Province Schools at the South African Schools Championships. They were also selected for the EP U19 Waterpolo side.1986 saw the first school waterpolo overseas tour. They visited Greece, Italy, Israel and France.

College hosted its first tournament in 1987. Teams from both the EP and Border were invited. Dale beat Muir in the finals 6-4. The St Andrew’s team ended up in 4th position overall.

The 1st and 2nd teams created a formidable reputation in 1989 and remained unbeaten in the Eastern Cape.

In 1990, under new coach, Rob Lodge, College won the EP Schools Tournament and the 2nd team remained unbeaten in their league. At this point swimming and waterpolo were separated, becoming two autonomous sports.

In 1991 Hilton Sinclair was rated the best waterpolo player in the EP side.

Nine St. Andrew’s players were selected in various provincial sides in 1995, with Anthony Garstang and Mark Gardner being chosen for the Eastern Province “A” side.

When DT Hudson (OA 1928) died in 1995, he left a large legacy to the school from which the Olympic-sized pool for swimming and waterpolo was built. This facility, officially opened on 8 October 1997, enabled St. Andrew’s to establish itself as a leading waterpolo-playing school.

Sean Stanley received SA U16 Waterpolo Colours in 1997 and played for South Africa in Eastern Europe.

The 1998 waterpolo season saw the number of teams at both senior and junior level increase, the quality of play improve, and the number of fixtures double. St Andrew’s had more waterpolo players than any other school in the Eastern Province, and only Grey PE had as many teams. A Hungarian National U15 player (Endre Res-Kiss) joined the waterpolo team for two months and was admired by all the players. He demonstrated many skills and tricks to the boys who stood in awe of the height, speed and power he achieved in the water.

College formed an U16 side for the first time in 1998 and they won all 6 matches played.

The 3rd waterpolo team of 1998 were dubbed “The Rovers” because of the members’ rather “untrackable” style of play. They were “..……. an enthusiastic and high-spirited team, eager for competition, but rather less avid for those heavy training sessions. However, as the season progressed, the understanding of the game and the acquisition of skill were remarkable.” (The Andrean, 1998)

On 26 September 1998, the waterpolo team were returning from a tour to the Cape when a tyre burst just before Port Elizabeth, resulting in the bus overturning. Daniel Low (a Grade 10 boy at the time) was seriously injured. Miraculously no one else in the bus was badly hurt.

Olivier Pinchard was selected for the EP “A” side in 1999.

The team of 2000 was rated as one of the best College waterpolo sides, with new staff member Dean Boshoff at the helm.

The first professional waterpolo coach was appointed in 2001 – a Hungarian by the name of Krisztian Szentgyörgyi. Sixteen boys were selected for provincial sides that year. Between 2001 and Term 1 of 2011, other international coaches included Csaba Fuzesy (Hungary) and Jason Sileno (Zimbabwe).

In 2002 the 1st and 2nd waterpolo teams won their leagues and College won the inter-schools St Andrew’s Shield for the first time. Ben Low was the first recipient of Honours for waterpolo. He played for the U18B Internationals against New Zealand and Australia. Jeremy Dobrowsky and Andrew Prior toured with the SA U15 team to Hungary and Slovakia and Tom Brukman, who had played for the 1st team throughout his career at College, was selected for the U16 South African team.

In 2003 James Hatting (a Grade 9 boy at the time) represented the SA U15 team on a tour of Hungary and Slovakia. Tom Brukman, Matthew Muirhead, Andrew Prior, Jeremy Dobrowsky and Matthew Devine were selected for the U18A Boarder team and Devine was named the “Best Attacking Player” at the SA Schools Tournament.

Nine St Andrew’s boys were selected for provincial sides in 2004.

At the start of the third term of 2005, Csaba Fuzesy, the professional waterpolo coach, decided not to return from a trip to Hungary, leaving the players without a coach at a time when all the other top schools were well into their pre-season training. Tim Craig, a Rhodes University student kindly stepped in and coached the 1st team while Chris Goldswain (OA and  Captain of Waterpolo in 2001, who was also studying at Rhodes) coached all the junior players. Fortunately the school was able to secure the services of Jason Sileno, a professional coach from Zimbabwe, who arrived just before half-term.

In August 2005 some major changes to the rules of waterpolo were introduced which did not immediately suit our style of play, and Jason had to work hard on the boys’ skills and patterns of play to take advantage of the new rules.

In 2006 waterpolo was considered to be the fastest growing summer sport in schools within South Africa. St Andrew’s experienced more players, more tournaments and more games than ever before. Twenty boys, together with new coach (Jason Sileno) and Mr Creese embarked on a two week four of Hungary and Holland during the April holidays. The boys learned quickly that the Hungarian passion for waterpolo made them formidable opponents. When the team arrived in Holland they were told they would be playing against the Dutch National U18 side, who were under the impression College was the South African National side! “The results of these games were predictable, although the experience gained was invaluable.” (The Andrean, 2006)

Twelve boys were Border representatives in 2006 and thirteen boys were chosen for Border teams in 2007.

In 2008 waterpolo was the biggest summer sport at College in the first term, with 120 boys participating in 5 senior and 3 junior teams. They played in 216 competitive games in total, winning close on 60% of them. A total of 23 boys were selected for provincial sides.

A heating system was installed in the pool during 2008, at a cost of R400,000. Thanks to several generous donations and the proceeds from many fundraising events organised and run by the parents, the bill was covered by the end of the year.

Another major addition to the pool in 2008 was the new electronic scoreboard supplied by Blair Henderson, parent of Liam who was in Grade 10 at the time.

In August 2009, after a short training camp in Johannesburg, 27 boys departed SA for a two-week waterpolo tour to Hungary and Croatia. The aim of the tour was to develop skills and expose the boys to a far higher level of waterpolo than they were used to. The tour group was made up of a mixture of all age groups from U14 to U19.

Edward Torr, who played in the College 1st Waterpolo Team as well as at provincial level from Grade 8 to Matric, was awarded Honours in 2009.  Twenty four boys were selected for Border that same year.

Waterpolo continued to gain in popularity at College in 2010, with a total of 266 competitive games being played. Angus and Lachlan Macdonald, Peter Cornish and Matthew (Choc) Malan were selected for the SA U19 team. College won the SACS tournament for the first time. Peter Cornish was named the “Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament”. Nick Eastwood, Peter Cornish, Choc Malan and Lachlan Macdonald were selected for the tournament side announced after the competition, an achievement that recognises them unofficially as amongst the top waterpolo players in the country.

Professional coach, Jason Sileno, left at the end of the first term in 2011. A total of 324 competitive matches were played that year, 58 more than the previous year. There were 32 Border representatives. The Macdonald brothers (Angus and Lachlan) were selected for the SA U18 team and were awarded Honours.

Graeme Lucas-Bull, a new professional coach and Maths teacher, joined the waterpolo ranks at the beginning of 2012. He quickly made his mark, and with his emphasis on strong defence and team discipline, he made a huge impact across many of the teams, inspiring the boys to play some outstanding waterpolo.

Eighteen boys were selected for the EP team and 14 for the Albany team in 2012. Campbell Gregory was selected for the SA U18 team, to participate in the World Junior Championships in Australia. He played provincial waterpolo in every year of his high school career and was awarded Honours.

At the beginning of 2013 Rirhandzu Hashatse was awarded Honours. Over 160 boys were actively involved in waterpolo that year, with 7 senior teams and 5 junior teams. They played 328 competitive matches in total, winning or drawing over 60% and scoring more than 1,900 goals. The 1st, 3rd, 5th, U15B, U14A and U14B teams all won their respective divisions of the Grahamstown League. Twenty six boys were selected for provincial sides and Graeme Lucas- Bull was selected as coach for the U19A provincial team. The undoubted highlight of the year for the boys was a two week tour to Hungary, Coatia, Slovenia and Italy at the end of the August holidays.

In 2014 Graeme Lucas-Bull was selected as the South African Men’s Assistant Coach for the World Championships taking place in Kazakhstan and was also the coordinator for the SA U16 squad. The number of boys actively involved in waterpolo continued to rise, with 8 senior teams and 5 junior teams. This increase in numbers meant that the school was heavily reliant on student coaches from Rhodes University. Graeme was instrumental in assisting them and raising the standards expected of these young coaches. Stefan Zimmerman, a matric boy whose own 1st Team ambitions were cruelly halted due to illness, stepped up to coach the U15A side alongside Mr Harley Searle. His efforts were

exceptional and he gained the respect and admiration of his players, their parents, the staff, and opposition coaches.

David Mackenzie, a talented young coach who had achieved a great deal of success in waterpolo with Pearson High School in the past few years, joined St Andrew’s at the beginning of 2015 after Graeme Lucas-Bull left College to join the staff of St Stithians.

The Waterpolo Club grew exponentially in 2015, with College fielding 10 senior teams and 5 junior teams. Max Keiser was selected for the South African U18 squad who played against England, Australia and New Zealand U18 teams in December. Wesley Williams was selected for the South African U16 squad that toured Malta in July 2015. Wesley also participated in an international tournament where the SA U16 team played against a club team from Malta, the England U18 team and the Netherlands U16 team.

Eighteen boys were selected to represent Eastern Province in 2015 and Max Kieser was awarded his Waterpolo Honours.

In 2016 College won the Vides Waterpolo Tournament hosted by Selborne College in East London. The final was played against a strong and very determined Selborne team. The College boys fought hard throughout the game and ended up victorious winning 10-8. At the conclusion of the tournament Wade Ackermann was named “Best Attacker of the Tournament”, Wesley Williams was named “Best Defender of the Tournament” and Matthew Stainforth was voted by the referees as the “Best Player on Finals Day”.

Also in 2016, Wade Ackerman received Honours for Waterpolo and a total of 28 boys represented EP.

“Be a good team mate – when you help a team mate you are in a sense helping yourself. Take pride in making good passes.” Igor Milanovic, a retired Serbian waterpolo player who had an illustrious professional career spanning 20 years.