Neatly nestled under the shadow of Table Mountain sits the Piley Rees field where for more than a century Bishops Boys have run diamond shaped support lines, off loaded in tackles and attacked defenders only to subtly slip an early pass to the next player moving at speed.
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The doyens of Bishops rugby, Piley Ress and Basil Bey, realised that the Bishops boys were generally less physically developed than their Afrikaans contemporaries at an early age and subsequently developed a style of rugby which will forever live within the context of the Bishops rugby landscape. We have our own unique attitude to the 'running game'. We base our philosophy (which is also developed through the boy's passion for one-touch rugby!) on the concept that no player is limited by the number on their back.

This is heralded in that Bishops has never played with jersey numbers preferring each and every player to develop a skill set which promotes catch and pass, offloading in the tackle, decision making and identifying space. This indicates their immense aptitude for and application of the running game. This is all supported by our Bishops Rugby Vision and Core Values.

We have on average 19 sides in the Western Province Premier League: 1st to 7th XVs ,16A to Ds 15A to Ds 14A to Ds . Seniors U19/U16 practice on Tuesday and Thursday from 3-45 to 5-30 Juniors U15/U14 practice on Monday and Wednesday from 3-45 to 5-30 Captains Practice Friday 2-30 to 3-30 Local League matches are all played on Saturday mornings with additional matches occasionally taking place during the week.

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To inspire and unify Bishops through continually striving to improve, and challenge rugby with innovation, but firmly holding onto our heritage of playing a fast paced, highly skilled support based attacking game while being unbending in our defence.

Our Vision is supported by the following CORE VALUES

  • Love for the game through enjoyment and responsible involvement;
  • Sportsmanship with integrity, self-discipline, utmost respect for opponents and officials;
  • Excellence so we will always strive to be our best;
  • Selflessness for the team and school before ourselves;
  • Fearlessness no matter who the opposition;
  • Respect for our rugby heritage.


Barry Heatlie captained South Africa to their first ever Test win in 1896 and again in the third test of 1903 which won them the Series against the British

There is a myth that William Webb Ellis started rugby. There is also a myth that Canon Ogilvie brought rugby to South Africa. In fact he detested the game and did not want Bishops to play it. What he brought to South Africa in 1861 was a form of football at a time when there was no game called soccer and rugby football was played only at Rugby School. Canon Ogilvie's game was based on what was played at his old school, Winchester College in Hampshire. George Ogilvie was a remarkable personality.

His nickname was Gog and the game played at the Cape was often referred to as Gog's Game or Gogball. Bishops got the Cape playing football of this kind, starting with the South African College. Bishops and SACS may well have played each other as far back as 1892. Eventually clubs were formed, Hamiltons in 1875 and then Villagers to start with, and then in the late 1870s the rugby game was brought to the Cape and became generally accepted, as it had become in England in 1871. Then the Western Province RFU was formed to regulate the game in the Western Province. Bishops, like SACS and then Victoria College out at Stellenbosch, played in the Grand Challenge competition of the WP RFU. That all changed with the coming of the school. In those early days Bishops had the advantage of coaching, especially by HH Castens, a South African old boy of Rugby School and Oxford. Then it also had the great South African rugby personality and thinker of last century Barry Heatlie, whose nickname was usually Fairy but als o Ox. Heatlie, who helped to found the Old Diocesans' Union, also formed an Old Diocesans RFC. In forming the old boys' union he - or rather his wife - had worked out colours. The predominant colour was green. In days when dyeing was the simplest way of getting rugby jerseys, the OD RFC decided to use green - myrtle green.

Touring teams came to South Africa in 1891, 1896 and 1903. In those days the local union would appoint a captain who would pick a team to represent South Africa and give them jerseys to play in. When Heatlie became captain in 1896 he gave them his club's jerseys - and South Africa won for the first time. When he was again made captain in 1903 he gave his teams green jerseys again and South Africa won a series for the first time. And so South Africa still plays in green jerseys. In 1903 Gerald Orpen of SACS and two Bishops men, Fairy Heatlie and Biddy Anderson, pushed through a recommendation that the springbok be added to the jersey. It had been intended for 1903 but first came to pass in 1906.

The following is the list of those acknowledged as Bishops internationals: South Africa: Mauritz van Buuren, Harry Boyes, who was the first secretary of the SA Rugby Board when it was founded in 1889, Frank Guthrie, Bill Bisset, Jack Hartley, who is the youngest player ever to have represented South Africa, Charlie van Renen and his brother Willie, Percy Twentyman Jones, who became the president of the WP RFU and also played cricket for South Africa, Biddy Anderson, who captained South Africa at cricket and refereed a Test, FR Myburgh, Paul Scott, Davey Cope, the first man to kick a goal for South Africa in a test, who was killed in a train smash at Mostert's Hoek on his way to a Currie Cup tournament, Theo Samuels who first scored a try for South Africa, Barry Heatlie (captain), Long George Devenish, who was for years a national selector, Joe Barry, Syd Ashley, Bertie Gibbs, Paddy Carolin (captain), who first devised the 3-4-1 scrum formation and regretted doing so, Mary Jackson, Barley Burdett, who died in World War I, Noel Howe-Browne, Bai Wrentmore, Geoff Grey, who became a national selector, DO Williams,. George D'Alton, John Apsey (Prep only), Dendy Lawton, Howard Watt, Dennis Fry and his brother Stephen (captain), Tommy Gentles, Bobby Johns, Peter Whipp, Dugald Macdonald, Guy Kebble, Christian Stewart, Robbie Fleck, SelborneBoome, David von Hoesslin, Hanyani Shimange (Prep only) and, Francois Louw. Fleck, Boome and Von Hoesslin were in the same team at Bishops, when the star was Herschelle Gibbs. Nick Koster (International Barbarians) For England: Reg Hands, Tuppy Owen-Smith (captain), Ossie Newton Thompson, Clive van Ryneveld, Christopher Newton Thompson (wartime), Stuart Abbott For Scotland: Harold McCowat, Beak Steyn, Mike Dickson, Donald Macdonald For Wales: Mike Davies, Haldane Luscombe For Canada: Christian Stewart For Zimbabwe: Mark Neill, Russell Ashley-Cooper (Many others played for Rhodesia) For Australia: Daniel Vickermann For Argentina: Barry Heatlie - which means that he played for two countries. In addition Bill Bisset and Biddy Anderson refereed tests. Francois Louw, Bishops latest Springbok has played for WP, The Stormers, SA and is now captaining Bath

Facilities & Coaching

Bishops has 9 Rugby Fields, Heatlie Pavilion, Audio visual room, Skeeles Pavilion, Physiotherapist Room, Tuckshops, Change Rooms, Weights Gym and outside Pole Gym. The main field, our 1st XV field, is called the Piley Rees, our u16As play on the Sahara, u15As on the Range and u14As on Lutgensvale A. The other field on the main campus is the Avenue field where our Wild Boys, 4th XV, play. We also have four fields alongside the school at Lutgensvale. The Piley Rees Field is named for the legendary schoolmaster and rugby coach who had been a master at Bishops from 1922 to 1967. He died in 1975 and the field was named after him in 1983.

Our rugby pavilion and clubhouse - the Heatlie Pavilion - was demolished (in March 2008) ahead of rebuilding - a substantial facility including home and visitors' changing-rooms, a referees' changing-room, a physiotherapist and medical room, a bigger tuckshop, and much improved seating. The actual function room of the Heatlie is known as the Basil Bey Room after Basil Bey (staff 1971 to 1998). The stand was named after Tim Hamilton-Smith (1968 to 2007). Both appropriately named after these two Bishops rugby coaching luminaries whose service to the school, and in particular to the game of Rugby at Bishops, has been extraordinary. We have a resident physiotherapist who practices full time out of the physiotherapist room in the Heatlie. The fields on the Top Field - to the right as you come down the Avenue - take their names from what they were next to; The Avenue Field was and still is next to the Avenue. The Range was next to the old shooting range before it was moved to the far side of the Oaks. Parallel and next to the Range is the Cemetery because it was next to the cemetery behind St Thomas's Church, where the Astroturf now is. When the cemetery was deconsecrated the field was used for rugby and called the Graveyard (now the Astro). The Fields outside - off Riverton Road - of the school in the dip next to the river were once a farm. JW Lutgens acquired the farm in 1799 and so that low-lying part was called Lutgensvale where four fields are in operation.

The New Rick Skeeles Pavilion built in honour of Richard Skeeles - the legendary and much loved 1st XV Prep School Coach and master. Apart from the facilities we employ a full time professional rugby coach, Mike Bayly (OD) who helps coach the coaches and teams throughout the school as well as developing coaching structures which are implemented at all levels of the game at Bishops. We also employ a conditioning coach, Steve McKintyre, who looks after the specific physical conditioning of our main rugby squads. Tom Dawson-Squibb, performance coach, is employed to develop the emotional side of the top level sides and assist and guide all the coaches in team building and individual player development techniques. All sides have at least two coaches with a staff member at the helm.


Our outreach programme is a partnership with Ubuntu First Community Development who are currently running a rugby development programme in the Mfuleni Community. We support their programme by supplying them with refurbished kit, specialised coaching and games against our lower teams at the U14 and U16 levels.

Once a month children are brought in via our transport, coached by our professional coach, Mike Bayly, after which they play a match against our sides and finally after a light meal return home. This is repeated on two consecutive days once a month. This is a new initiative which we are hoping to expand next season.