It is the first time in 44 years that the Constantia club has secured the golden chalice of WP Club Rugby. Victory celebrations were brought forward by a couple of twists and turns in the schedule over the last fortnight.
Stellenbosch University, who basically lend the title to other teams on occasion, were the threat of which every hopeful was mindful. Had they collected full points from each of their remaining games, the Bay would have had to do the same to avoid points difference permutations for the title.
Fate, however, stepped in and together with the apparent demise of the air of invincibility the Maties possess, they dropped seven league points in two games.
First, Gold Cup place chasers Tygerberg RFC held the Maroon Machine to a draw at Florida Park and then Durbell surprised all by defeating the students, denying them any bonus points at Coetzenburg a few days later. This meant that False Bay were able to secure the title with a five point victory on Saturday, with a game in hand.
SLA titles have been rare in Constantia and the Bay were desperate to clinch their first in more than four decades in front of their loyal supporters.
Their opponents, Sir Lowrians, have been experiencing challenges and forfeited their two previous matches. The distinct possibility of the Bay being all dressed up with nowhere to go existed and it is here where Sir Lowrians deserve accolades. They displayed a passion and commitment which will surely carry them through their current situation and herald a reversal of fortunes.
It could have been so easy to forfeit the game, the prospect of the bottom of the table team travelling 50 kilometres to face the top dogs pretty daunting. Instead the Helderberg-based club arrived ready to entertain.
They contested with passion, resilient in the face of wave after wave of Bay attackers. They demonstrated commitment and a will to compete, evident in their two-try score, which will be central in their rebuilding phase.
In all, False Bay scored 13 tries, seven of them by their wings Roemark Smith (4) and Danie Roux (3), indicative of the width with which the home team played.
False Bay travel to Kuils River on Saturday and will not be taking the fixture lightly. The home team are fighting for survival, currently too close to the relegation zone for comfort, and will feel that their opponents may just have their foot off the pedal.
Bay coach Johnno van der Walt has to manage his players as his team starts their Gold Cup campaign in September.
“Adding another 11 weeks to our season sees our boys in training for over 12 months,” says Van der Walt.
“There are some tired bodies out there”.
The Gold Cup, formerly the Community Cup, is a national competition between South Africa’s top-placed clubs as well as a team from Zimbabwe, who are the Bay’s second opponents. It is a competition of contrasting playing styles and by its nature, presents a new set of challenges to participants.
“We are playing the best teams in their leagues, we don’t know much about them and have obviously never played them before,” says Van der Walt. “We will also be travelling long distances to different venues which also presents unique challenges and opportunities.”That all is in five weeks time and False Bay have a league match to contest on Saturday. Although Van der Walt will be using players from his broader pool of talent for Saturday’s match against “Kuila”, the Constantia team will prepare as usual and in no way underestimate their opponents. Retaining their unbeaten status for the season should be motivation alone.
Kick off at Kuils River is at 4pm on Saturday.
* Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.