Bay all set for their inaugural Gold Cup

False Bay's Riaan O'Niell tries to shake his marker during a league match earlier this season while Justin van Winkle comes up in support.

The Gold Cup is the National Club Championships for non-university clubs which has superceded the Community Cup in a slightly-changed format, taking place at various club venues over the next eight weeks.

The Community Cup was previously held as a pre-season tournament at a central venue. False Bay qualified by virtue of their second-place finish in Super League A in 2015. The other Western Province club taking part in the competition are the defending champions, Durbanville-Bellville.

Twenty teams from across Southern Africa, including one each from Zimbabwe and Namibia will contest four pools, with eight matches taking place per week for five weeks. The top two clubs from each pool progress to the quarter finals on October 15. The finals will take place at the home ground of the top-finishing finalist on October 29, the participants having been decided the week before.

The Bay completed their unbeaten Super League A campaign in mid-August and although the break could hamper momentum, the rest has been good for tired bodies. They started pre-season training in November 2015 and have been on the pitch since late January when they hosted Maties and Ikeys in pre-Varsity Cup friendly matches as well as other pre-season friendly matches.

“The break has given us an opportuniy to rest and to refocus the mind on the next task at hand”, said coach Johnno van der Walt.

“We don’t know what to expect at the Gold Cup this year as it is the first time in False Bay’s history that we are participating in a competition such as this.

“We have to keep in mind that all other participating clubs are champions of their respective leagues, so it is not going to be easy. We will treat all opposition with the same level of respect, not taking any match for granted,” he said.

The Constantia club is expected to be at full strength for their contest against KwaZulu-Natal’s most successful club, Durban Collegians, who only dropped one match out of their 14 played during the 2016 season. They are a team accustomed to winning and will pose False Bay’s first big challenge right off the bat. Playing against the same clubs year after year is one thing but facing clubs from another region poses a new set of challenges, none less than rugby style and game plan.

Van der Walt believes he has a well balanced squad with plenty of depth available to him at the Constantia club. “Depth is key in Club Rugby and even more so at the Gold Cup,” he said.

Indeed the Bay’s depth will be tested as they have automatically qualified for the semi-finals of the WPRFU’s prestigious President’s Cup. They face a top flight team, still to be decided, in a match which will test the skills and abilty of players knocking on the door of the club’s senior squad under the guidance of coach Pieter Benade. If ever there was an opportunity for these players to showcase their talent, this is surely it.

For the moment, however, the entire club is focused on this Saturday’s contest. The pitch has been relaid, looking lush and green and with early Spring sunshine looking likely, the prospect of thousands of enthusiastic rugby lovers framing the field is exciting. “We are want to do our community and club proud,” said Van der Walt. “We will be playing for all the Bay family that comes out to support us every weekend home or away. This one is for them”.

Indeed this is a match for the club rugby enthusiast, irrespective of allegiance, with illustrious opponents and a popular club carrying the hope of the Southern Suburbs.

Kick off is at 3.30pm on Saturday.

* Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.