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From 1944 until 1982, the school enjoyed the services of the noted geography master and schoolboy rugby coach, the late Mr Skonk Nicholson, whose name is iconic with Maritzburg College and schoolboy rugby, and who is well respected in the South African rugby community as having nurtured many Collegians to national and international sporting fame.In his 35 seasons in charge of the First XV (rugby), his teams established a playing record of Played 504, Won 403, Drew 49 and Lost 52.Initially, a system of four Houses was introduced, with a fifth House – Nathan House – being introduced in 1910.The old House system of five sporting Houses was replaced in 2014 with ten new so-called 'day' Houses, each of which meet every morning, have about 130 boys, and form the basis of the school's strong mentoring programme.The most well-known duties include 'team-testing' (the rote-learning of school teams etc.by juniors), 'running' (the carrying out of any errands by Form 2 boys for prefects), 'fagging' (a watered-down version of the old Victorian custom) and 'waiting-at-doors'.
An ardent Victorian, Mr Clark was especially proud that 11 of his young school’s sons had perished in the valiant colonial struggles 'for hearth and home' (the motto) – hence the school's martial insignia too.
Despite its size and its customary prowess on the sports field, Maritzburg College's academic standards are traditionally strong.
At the end of both 20 it was able to boast amongst the best results for a top tier school in the country.
College's structure of traditions and concepts date back to similar styles found in traditional British boarding schools, and it is perhaps one of the few schools in South Africa where this structure is retained to something like its original extent.
The first inter-schools cricket and rugby matches were both played against the Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg, on 6 October 1870, with the old Pietermaritzburg High School (now Maritzburg College) winning both fixtures.
School traditions include the wearing by all boys of straw boaters (known as bashers), which are hurled into the air at First XV rugby matches, and the saying of the word 'please' when a junior is addressing a senior boy.