Fergus the 1st XV Rugby Team Mascot
There was great team spirit in the 1995 1st XV, a side which included a few fifth formers and postmatrics in addition to the sixth form core. Fergus Pringle (Class of 1995, pictured left), who played lock, was captain and had captained the team through the age-groups from second form (Grade 8). The team had struggled through the years but managed to enjoy some success in 1995.
Fergus, who was selected for the Natal Schools XV, knew nothing about the mascot which bears his name until the end-of-season Rugby Dinner in the Greyhound Pavilion at which John Nightingale (Class of 1967) was guest speaker. The Greyhound mascot was presented by the Head Boy and 1st XV flank, Mark ‘Togs’ Shire. It had been skilfully crafted by his mother, Jenny, who ran a handmade baby accessories business.
The fact that the mascot was clad in a Number 4 One-Stripe jersey clearly indicated that it had been made to honour Fergus who commented from East Lothian, Scotland, in December 2014, “Throughout my life, there have never been many things I wanted to achieve more than playing for the Kearsney 1st XV… I was obsessed with Kearsney rugby.”
Three of the players – Grant Henderson, Max Nightingale and Mark Shire – stayed on for postmatric the following year and continued to play for the 1st XV. Nico Breedt, who later played for the Free State Cheetahs and who has subsequently assisted with the coaching of Kearsney’s forwards, joined the team as lock.
And so ‘Fergus’ was established as the team mascot from the beginning of the rugby season of 1996, the year of Kearsney’s seventy-fifth anniversary.
Fergus’ with the 1st XV after the Old Crocks Match in 1996 which Kearsney won 36-34.
A seasoned traveller and intercontinental frequent flyer, he has sustained several serious Injuries over the years, some the result of kidnappings by the 1st XV’s opponents. However, resourceful Tracey van den Aardweg managed to patch up his wounds with some ingenious surgery.
Early in 2015, Jenny Shire was amazed to hear that ‘Fergus’ had survived for twenty years. She and her husband, John (Class of 1963), kindly admitted him to the intensive care unit at their home for a few days before setting off to Mauritius for a family holiday. And so, after a head transplant and various skeletal interventions, a rejuvenated ‘Fergus’ continues to boost the morale of the One-Stripe from the touchline.