St Benedict’s College has long been considered one of the best schools in South Africa for rowing. Earlier this month they reaffirmed this pedigree by retaining their stellar record as National Schools Rowing Champions for the 29th consecutive year.
Despite incredibly tough competition at the annual regatta held at Roodeplaat Dam in Pretoria, St Benedict’s College placed first in the U14, U15 and Open events, raced over 2000m. They narrowly yielded the 1st Eight race to St Stithians College, took gold in the 2nd Eight and when all the scores were tallied, they were recognised as South Africa’s top rowing school.
Popularity of Rowing on the Rise
Close on 1 130 athletes from 25 schools participated in the 2023 South African Rowing Championships. This speaks volumes about the growing popularity of the sport. Several schools from neighbouring countries also showed off their skills on the water. Top contenders for the 2023 title included St Alban’s College, St Stithians, St John’s College, Jeppe Boys and St Andrew’s Grahamstown.
College Head, Dave Jeffrey says, “We are the only South African school to hold onto 29 back to back titles in what is a truly demanding sport. Rowing places a high premium on hard work and persistence and we’re incredibly proud of our boys. This victory is the result of many hours of training and focus. They have demonstrated how struggles and sacrifices combined with dedication pays off.”
Adding to this, Jeffrey says that holding onto the coveted title is not only a source of great pride for the Bennies community – it has also contributed towards our school’s nomination for School Team of the Year in the annual SA Sports Awards.
“When our boys row, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. They merge into one smoothly working machine. As has been said by others before, it’s like a poem of motion – a symphony of swinging blades – and we are honoured to have been recognised through this nomination. We look forward to the announcement later this month, but regardless of the outcome – our athletes are all winners and will always be part of a crew.”
The shining stars amongst the St Benedict’s rowers were certainly the U15 Scullers who took all top four sculling spots in one of the most competitive events, winning gold, silver, bronze and coming fourth in the same event.
The three-day event drew close on 4 000 spectators and Roodeplaat was abuzz with energy and the thrill of watching the teams give everything of themselves to finish first.
Jeffrey says, “It goes without saying, that the commitment of coaches and parents, as well as a continuous investment into our flagship sport, is a big part of why we have such a large percentage of our boys selecting rowing as their preferred summer sport. Success breeds success and everyone wants to be part of a winning team.”
All the competitors from the 14 boys’ schools, 5 girls and 6 co-ed schools deserve to be praised for how they embraced and prevailed over the season’s challenges. It was encouraging to see top performances across both co-ed and monastic schools.
The 2023 Champions across the categories include:
Best Co-ed School 3rd Peterhouse
2nd Germiston High School
1st Somerset College
Best Girls School 3rd Holy Rosary School
2nd St Andrews School for Girls
1st St Mary’s School Waverley
Best Boys School 3rd St Alban’s College
2nd St Stithians Boys College
1st St Benedict’s College
A proud and committed Bennies Old Boy, Darryn Roff runs and coaches the St Benedict’s Rowing Club, and adds, “I want to commend everyone for their unwavering commitment to our boys, our rowing club, and our legacy. It is a testament to your hard work and dedication that we have been named the Best Rowing School in South Africa for the 29th consecutive year. Congratulations, boys!”
Speaking at the Championship prizegiving, President of South African Rowing, Sean Kerr, congratulated the athletes on their performances, urging the younger rowers to remain dedicated to the sport.