Waterpolo

HISTORY

Water Polo at King Edward VII School started as an off shoot of the Old Edwardian Society Swimming and Waterpolo Club. This Old Boys Club had been formed in 1935 and for many years used the school pool as their headquarters and always entered a junior team in the Johannesburg leagues made up entirely of boys from the School. These boys who played in the Old Eds junior teams used to organise games after school galas, much to the consternation of the swimming masters of the time, as “it spoiled their swimming styles”. Springboks such as Leon Nahon, Gary Bonney, Robbie Schwartz, Mike Renwick and Jake Kneebone learned their waterpolo while at school but playing for the Old Boys.

The Society Swimming section has always promoted both junior swimming and junior waterpolo. In the sixties it was normal for the club chairman, Roley Wright to manage and swim in a junior league team on Friday nights, and then on Saturday afternoons collect and supervise the juniors for their league game, before proceeding to his own league games. The junior team was virtually the school team, and to improve the standard, Roley Wright introduced a Friday afternoon training session. The training session was soon expanded and invitations were extended to other local schools to send teams down to Old Eds on Friday afternoons. As a result matches started being organised. The Friday afternoons became very popular, although most schools could at that stage only field a single team. Some Springbok Waterpolo players were asked to give their time to help with the coaching. Bill Otto, the then springbok captain and Jake Kneebone were amongst those that helped. 

The game steadily became more popular as a school sport. Some boys who had played waterpolo at school became teachers and their enthusiasm was contagious and soon schools such as KES, Parktown, St Stithians and Jeppe were fielding teams in all age groups. Mike Leemhuis at KES was an early administrator, followed by Mark Demmer and then by Brian Webster. King Edwards water polo has prospered during this time and has produced more springbok water polo players than any school in the country.


EDWARDIAN CUP

This prestigious event is held every year on the 1st weekend in March. In the early sixties there was little or no “official” waterpolo played at the school. There was however a close connection between the School and the Old Edwardian Society Swimming and Waterpolo Club. This Old Boys Club had been formed in 1935 and for many years used the school pool as their headquarters and always entered a junior team in the Johannesburg leagues made up entirely of boys from the School. These boys who played in the Old Eds junior teams used to organise games after school galas, much to the consternation of the swimming masters of the time, as “it spoiled their swimming styles”. Springboks such as Leon Nahon, Gary Bonney, Robbie Schwartz, Mike Renwick and Jake Kneebone learned their waterpolo while at school but playing for the Old Boys. 

The Society Swimming section has always promoted both junior swimming and junior waterpolo. In the sixties it was normal for the club chairman, Roley Wright to manage and swim in a junior league team on Friday nights, and then on Saturday afternoons collect and supervise the juniors for their league game, before proceeding to his own league games. The junior team was virtually the school team, and to improve the standard, Roley Wright introduced a Friday afternoon training session. The training session was soon expanded and invitations were extended to other local schools to send teams down to Old Eds on Friday afternoons. As a result matches started being organised. The Friday afternoons became very popular, although most schools could at that stage only field a single team. Some Springbok Waterpolo players were asked to give their time to help with the coaching. Bill Otto, the then springbok captain and Jake Kneebone were amongst those that helped.

From the Friday afternoon games, the idea of a tournament was mooted and the first tournament was held shortly thereafter at the Old Eds Pool. Roley Wright served as organiser, coach and referee. The first tournament was a huge success and was won by KES. Because of the number of teams entered, the tournament took the whole day and it was obvious that another format was needed. This was done by dividing the tournament into A and B pools and round robins played in each section. For a few years the A section was played at Marits Observatory. Myles Fowlds, another Old Eds player was organiser and referee at Marits Observatory while Roley continued to organise the B section at Old Eds. This change also saw the first presentation of the “Old Edwardian Cup”, the same trophy that teams compete for today. This trophy was largely financed by Roley Wright himself.

The game steadily became more popular as a school sport. Some boys who had played waterpolo at school became teachers and their enthusiasm was contagious and soon schools such as KES, Parktown, St Stithians and Jeppe were fielding teams in all age groups. The school’s body grew stronger and eventually took over the running of the tournament. Mike Leemhuis at KES was an early administrator, followed by Mark Demmer and then by Brian Webster who, after 15 years at the helm, still shows the same enthusiasm for encouraging waterpolo in this country. Sadly, for the School, but to Brian Webster’s credit, he was offered a position at St Stithians College, at which he now coaches waterpolo. We wish him well with this new challenge.

Today the King Edwards VII School’s tournament is the most prestigious one in the country, hotly contested by the founder Schools as well as the Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Free State schools, which are also taking part. 

The 30th edition of the King Edward VII school Waterpolo Festival was played over the weekend of the 1st-4th March 2011. During 2010 a young KES 1st Team contested the final with Parktown & conceded victory in extra time. The 2011 KES 1st Team approached the 2011 event, hoping for a better result! The KES 1st Team proceeded through the 2011 event winning all their group games and beating Paul Roos in the quarter finals and old rivals St John’s in the semi’s. The final vs Bishops was an exciting encounter and the teams were level going into the final chukka, but a final goal 20 sec from time, by Malcolm Marx sealed victory for King Edward VII School for the first time in 11 years!

The 2012 King Edward VII Water Polo Tournament played out over the 2nd-4th March. King Edward VII School and St John’s College played in a thrilling final on the 4th March. King Edward VII School and St John’s College reached the final at the KES Water Polo Tournament 2012. What an exciting final it was with St John’s College and KES trading goal for goal. St John’s College finally took the lead in the last chukka and held-out to be crowned 2012 champions and were awarded the Edwardian Cup.

The 2013 King Edward VII School Water Polo Tournament was a tense affair with the final between St Stithians and St John’s College going down to the wire. Final score: St Stithians 9-6 St John’s College. With Reddam taking home the Fair Play Trophy and St Andrews winning the Plate Final.

The 2014 Tournament was for the played in heavy weather conditions with even the final been interrupted with heavy showers and lightning. The final was a tough battle of the Eastern Cape Schools, Grey High and St Andrews. Grey High snatched a 10-8 win over St Andrews and Paul Roos pipped King Edward VII School 3-2 in the Plate Final.

Courtesy of Roley Wright, founder of the Edwardian Cup Tournament.



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