by Flavia Davids
The rivalry between Helshoogte and Eendrag continues. The neighbouring residences’ annual Derby Week kicked off with a bang on Sunday 6 August. What followed was an exciting week of sparring between the Hoenders of Helshoogte and the Eagles of Eendrag, with matches taking place all over Stellenbosch. This year’s tournament marked the 20th anniversary of Derby Week. Prior to the start of Derby Week in 2003, Eendrag and Helshoogte were opponents in several rugby fixtures, but never under the banner of a derby competition.
Since the official inception of Derby Week in 2003, the competition has grown to include a variety of activities, including chess, dominoes, debating and e-sports. Touchies, tug-of-war, soccer, squash and ultimate frisbee also had their place on this year’s calendar, as did netball and basketball. This long-standing event has become something of Helshoogte and Eendrag lore. Each year, residents and spectators alike look forward to an exciting week filled with banter, buffoonery and a lot of body paint. Derby Week 2023 was no different.
After the tournament is over, there is also something about the derby that lingers. It seems that, despite the fact that the derby is, in fact, a competition, it is not as clear cut as that. The goal of Derby Week is not so much the pitting of the residences against each other, nor is it about the creation of a winner and a loser. Derby Week is a great week of competitiveness, engagement, participation, fun and new friendships. And also body paint.
As it has been doing for the past 20 years, Die Matie bore witness to the longstanding tradition between Helshoogte and Eendrag.
The usual chaos of men’s res netball
by Taro Samuelson
The derby was running hot, and as the stakes of the yearly duel between Eendrag and Helshoogte got higher by the day, so did the gees. Orange and blue jerseys lined the netball court at Rhenish Girls’ High. The umpires were hard-pressed to keep up with the battalion of netball-yielding men. The game started with blazing speed, and Helshoogte immediately adjusted their strategy to match Eendrag’s strengths.
“This wasn’t our original team, but I put the players in during the first quarter and it worked,” explained the blue team’s coach, Megan Nel. This quickly led to Eendrag stumbling from their game plan, and Helshoogte quickly took the lead; already ten points ahead by half-time for a score of 13 – 3. Nobody in the crowd, neither the blue nor orange side, lost their spirits. Loyal supporters lined the field with signs and posters, which helped the teams keep up their energy in the fast-paced game.
Each team possessed unique strengths and the quickest path to victory was to capitalise on them weaknesses of the opposing team. Helshoogte’s defence was eager to take the ball, and Eendrag’s coach, Luciano Visagie, recognised that this is where they could have redeemed the score. “Our defence was strong, I think the issue was when the ball reached the circle – that’s where we lost. If we scored with each of the balls that reached the circle, the score wouldn’t have reached twenty.”
The ball travelled far and fast, and the supporters had to strain to keep up. The umpires had to work to keep their heads in the breakneck game, as stepping and handling errors often halted the mostly inexperienced men’s plays. “Helshoogte played the game. They managed to pause, slow down and play effectively by following technique,” admitted Visagie, “Our players allowed the adrenaline to dampen their skills.”
In the second half, Helshoogte’s growing progress was slowed as Eendrag settled into their best tactic against the blue team. By playing the outside of the court, Eendrag managed to slow the game down and play an impressive last quarter. Though, the blue lead was just too great to close right at the end, and the whistle blew with the game at 25 – 8 for Helshoogte. The match, even though mostly realised by inexperienced players, was competitive throughout and an exhilarating watch.
A netball match between two men’s residences certainly kept the derby spirit and the sportsmanship healthy. With the derby scale still tipped to Eendrag’s side, the trek to the netball court warmed up both residences for a thrilling derby final. The derby between Eendrag and Helshoogte is ever- exciting, ever-growing, and ever-unique. This year, tennis took a shining role in the annual competition, and helped tip the scales to the team that craved the trophy the most.
The chickens’ got their win on the court
by Taro Samuelson
Under the winter sun in Stellenbosch, the two men’s hostels met on the tennis courts. Each was ready to give it their all. Supporters riled up players from all around them fields, the players kept their focus, and as a result they produced exceptional games. With both teams ready to warm up the courts, the first two games struck one-all on the scoreboard. Helshoogte proved their hunger for the win with an 8 – 0 game.
They made it clear they were ready to make their mark. However, Eendrag leaned into their opportunistic mindset and broke through each of the other singles games, taking three wins 8 – 6. Eendrag’s players boasted a water-tight defensive game strategy, and were able to hold most of their serves throughout. The Orange house had a few dire moments in some of the games, but managed not to let the
Blue’s lead affect their level-headedness. They closed the gap each time, then stretched it just enough in their favour. Helshoogte managed to counter with a confident and hard-serve style, and they kept their focus on their attacks. Skillful serves and fastballs that kept the crowd’s necks moving led them to their first victory at the start of the day. The following losses could not make them lose faith in their strategies.For the closing part of the match, with the crowd enthralled with the blur of rackets, the doubles tournament started at an electric pace. Eendrag fought hard and played more aggressively than in the singles games. Their pace, fuelled by the adrenaline from their lead, quickly proved unsustainable.
Arms swung wider and their serves were strong, but their defences declined just enough for Helshoogte to close in on Eendrag’s lead. Helshoogte’s coordination proved a better strategy than Eendrag’s for the doubles. Their teammates worked to keep the Orange side on their toes throughout the game, and Helshoogte dominated both games with 8 – 4 and 8 – 5 scores respectively. Both residences had three games in the bag. They looked to the points to settle the day without a tie. Eendrag acquired 33 points throughout the tournament. But Helshoogte pulled ahead with 42 points, and subsequently added a few more points to the Blue derby scoreboard.
“Dis al” for Helshoogte and Eendrag derby
by Flavia Davids and Misha Fray
The tensions between neighboring Stellenbosch University (SU) residences Helshoogte and Eendrag came to a head during the derby’s final rugby fixture at Danie Craven Stadium on Friday 11 August. Eendrag had an ambitious start at the beginning of Derby Week’s final fixture, gunning for the try line right after kickoff. Their play was quickly countered by Helshoogte’s defense.
After a series of major tackles from both sides, Helshoogte continually applied pressure and scored their first try, together with a successful conversion within the first 12 minutes of the first-half. With the confidence boost from the first try and conversion, Helshoogte broke through Eendrag’s defense line and scored a second try, but ended up narrowly missing the conversion. During the match’s second half, Eendrag made several attempts at closing the point gap. After several handling errors made by both teams, Eendrag was able to put 5 points on the board. Within the last 7 minutes of the match’s second half, Eendrag was still trailing 10 points behind Helshoogte.
What started off as a case of survival of the fittest eventually created a champion out of the Helshoogte team with a final score of 15 – 5. The men in blue’s victory was met with great excitement by its supporters. “I’m super proud of the Hellies gents,” said Tauf Christian, incoming head mentor of Vesta PSO and second-year BA (Humanities) student at SU. “[Helshoogte] pushed through really well in the first-half, although the second half proved to be a bit more challenging. The guys were tired and we could see it. Their game was lacking, but otherwise they did well.”
Sergio van Rooyen, first-year BEd (Intermediate Phase Education) student, also commented on Eendrag’s performance in the final rugby fixture. “We all expected Eendrag to win because they already had the trophy. What’s ironic is that we all expected Eendrag to win, but Helshoogte caught them off guard,” he said. “Eendrag had good possession of the ball, but couldn’t get anything out of Helshoogte’s defense.” Despite the Helshoogte victory in the final fixture, Eendrag bravely defended their title as winners of the derby. This win made it their 13th consecutive win since the derby first started in 2003.
“I think the win speaks to Helshoogte’s mentality and to our never-say-die attitude,” said Lusanele Nelani, House Committee member of Helshoogte and final-year BA (Law) student at SU. “[Eendrag] may have taken the derby, but they can’t take away our pride, our respect, and our love for one another. The fact that the boys could go out and absolutely demolish from the first to the last minute was an amazing thing to witness.’’