False Bay RFC, reigning Gold Cup champions, board a flight to embark on a 10-day trip to the Zimbabwean capital, hosted by Old Georgians, the Zimbabwean club rugby champions in 2017.
The two teams competed in the same pool at the Gold Cup in 2016 and formed a strong bond after discovering their mutual passion for the game of rugby and the ethos of the club game.
Both teams lost out on participation in the next edition of the competition, primarily victims of budgetary constraints.
The organisers of the competition have been forced to make changes to the competition’s format and both clubs find themselves watching salaciously from the sidelines.
The new Gold Cup format has been reduced to 16 clubs, compared to the 20 which participated in the last two competitions.
The teams from Namibia and Zimbabwe lose out as do False Bay.
Although they are defending champions, the Constantia outfit lost in the semi-final of the Super League A to Durbell, who gain entry to the competition. The Bay ended second to Maties on the SLA table, with Durbell third and the close rivalry between the clubs went down to the wire.
The organisers of South Africa’s national club championship will be encouraged by the mini-tournament arranged between False Bay and Old Georgians.
It epitomises the competition and demonstrates all that is good about the club game, a facet of the national game which appears to the outsider to be undervalued. Making this tour even more remarkable is the funding model employed by the clubs.
The players have embarked on an innovative fundraising campaign which incorporated a Cross Fit head-to-head with the Ikeys squad.
Players were expected to raise sponsors per discipline, which resulted in a healthy boost to their travel chest.
Added to this, hosts Old Georgians have been hard at work raising sponsorships for the event and some ancillary costs, alleviating the pressure on the Bay players.
Sponsors such as Isuzu Harare have come on board, demonstrating the value the two matches offers as an event on and off the pitch.
“After just a single fixture, a few of us stayed in touch, which resulted in a few Bay players joining a “rebel-Zim” team at the Cape Town Tens” says Graham Knoop, False Bay first team captain.
“A casual idea of False Bay coming to Harare was bandied about, and “Beefy” Murray, the OG’s captain, contacted us and the challenge to make the tour happen was set.”
It is hoped that the tour will become an annual event, with Old Georgians coming to Cape Town next year.
Old Georgians captain “Beefy” Murray, Keith to his mother, gave insight from the hosts.
“When most players look back at their rugby careers they look to achievements, successes and defeats during their time on the paddock. Most of all though they look back at what rugby created for them with regards to friendships and everlasting bonds that create legends.
“What False Bay and Old Georgians have created is the absolute pinnacle of all rugby worldwide. A friendship and mutual respect that will hopefully continue for years to come.
“Meeting False Bay two years ago created great friendships that too will last lifetimes and the fact that we get to share our love of rugby on a tour will create a special annual event.
“This is passion in sport, this is why we play the greatest sport on earth. This is rugby”.
Kindred spirits on and off the pitch and shining examples of the essence of club rugby and the Gold Cup. Bon voyage False Bay.
Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.