AMATEURS BECOME THE POOR COUSINS OF RUGBY
After the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which took place in South Africa, the era of the professional game arrived, not in a slow, measured manner, but in a swift abandonment of a more-or-less strict amateur code.
Overnight the game became professional and a frenzied scramble to secure the services of players took place.
Clubs around the country were raided and stripped of their player base. Until then rugby around the World was amateur and the level of amateurism was varied.
South African Unions were hungry to deepen their talent pool and clubs in the Western Province suffered as their players were enticed to join the professional ranks. Clubs such as Northerns Avonwood, Bellville South (names which have changed through the years) and Tygerberg were particularly hard hit as their talented, homegrown talent was lured away to smaller Unions.
At False Bay a combination of retirements and defections to the professional ranks left the Bay squad of the previous few years in tatters and struggling. The club’s next milestone was winning the Super League B in 1999 under Henry Monk. The Bay participated in the SLA until the end of 2001 when they returned to SLB.
At the end of 2003, False Bay were relegated to the Super League C, their lowest ranking in decades. Doomsday merchants were writing the Constantia club off as all but buried. That was not necessarily malicious, vultures-circling talk. Club Rugby was suffering since the introduction of professionalism, continuously relegated in an ever-increasing television feeding-frenzy and the introduction of competitions to feed the shirt-buying, thrill-seeking couch-brigade.
Respected and popular coach Daryl Sim was appointed as assistant to Brendon Fogarty, a master at Bishops who possessed a fine rugby brain and was coaching the UCT Under 20s.
Brendon has shared with us his recollection of his tenure, which will be posted shortly.
He was at the helm until 2008, when Kevin Musikanth took over. Musikanth won promotion to the SLA in 2009 and then followed that up with a whirlwind season in the SLA, finishing third in 2010 and seventh in 2011. These two years were characterized by some great performances and by the introduction to the local game of one Dimitri Catrakillis, who went on to prominence after his tenure at the Constantia club.
False Bay were then relegated to the SLB at the end of 2011. Musikanth, kicking his heals on the sidelines returned in 2013 to escape the SLB as soon as possible. This he did and the season was characterised by the introduction of a young Scottish student doing his gap year as a stooge at Bishops. Huw Jones had played in the False Bay Under 20 for the 2012 season and made a tremendous impact in that 2013 SLB season. His career developed exponentially since he announced his arrival in the SLB.
The Bay returned to the top flight of WP Club Rugby in 2013. Musikanth’s tenure ended at the end of that season and the Club showed faith in the obvious talents of Johnathan van der Walt and appointed him and Slab Williams.
Married to the success of the Bay was a strong committee off the field and a strong core of players on it. Mike Poppmeier, team captain until 2015 shared a few of his thoughts with us. His contribution will follow.
The first full year under van der Walt (2015) saw False Bay end second to Maties and then in 2016 the Club was crowned Super League A Champions. They were losing finalists in that year’s Gold Cup.
The following year, 2017, the Bay ended second to Maties in the SLA and went on to be crowned National Club Rugby Champions when they won the Gold Cup in front of a massive, ecstatic home crowd at Fortress False Bay.
The drought-affected 2018 season saw False Bay lose in the semi-finals in the reformatted Super League competition. They had again finished second to Maties in the round robin stage of the competition.
Our series will continue with contributions from a number of people, sharing recollections from their vantage point.