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26 September 2017

Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography

False Bay RFC resume their Gold Cup 2017 campaign after a long weekend bye when they host Namibian Champions, Western Suburbs at Constantia on Saturday.


The Namibians are without a victory as they enter the last of their four pool matches but this will surely count for nothing, a whitewash sufficient motivation for any team to add respectability to their tournament. Travel to a tourism hotspot such as Cape Town may be sufficient compensation for an ordinary tournament, but it should be considered that this is a tournament of champions and lethargy does not form part of the regime of league winners.


The Constantia outfit enjoyed a timeous bye over this Heritage Day long weekend and are eager to resume their pool stage campaign in a successful manner. They travel to Kwa-Zulu Natal next weekend for what is expected to be a pool deciding match against College Rovers. This enthralling showdown is much anticipated but there is the all-important matter of the Namibians this weekend, a banana peel of note if the pun is excused. Collegians themselves have a tough encounter this weekend when they travel to Kathu to face Sishen who have everything to play for as their hopes of qualifying for the Top 16 are far from dead.


Indeed claims that this year’s Gold Cup is by far the most closely contested in years, if it’s previous Community Cup format is incorporated, are not marketing hype. Each of the four pools has more than two teams vying for a Last 16 spot and Pool D, which hosts local team False Bay, is no different. Mathematically, Sishen could equal Collagens on league points after their match on Saturday if their stars are aligned, but safe money bets that this is unlikely.


Here at Constantia, the Bay are determined to reduce mathematics from the equation, a five-league point haul their gateway to a Durban pool decider and a home quarter final as the prize.


There is a lot of work to be done before that and coach Johnno van der Walt and his cautious assistants are not allowing themselves to get ahead of this weekend. There is no overstating the obvious, one game at a time and treat every opponent with equal respect. Even more so at Gold Cup level where every team is a champion outfit.   


van der Walt has one or two injury considerations so the depth of his squad will be tested. He’s keeping his cards close to the chest but he has been clear throughout the season in what is expected of his charges. This has resulted in a top quality squad with sufficient depth chomping at the bit to enter the fray if required.


“We picked up a few injuries in the last fixture and we have a few players returning from injury so our squad will look a little different for the next two games”, said the wily coach.


When all is considered, one’s success in a tournament such as this cannot be built on the faltering of other teams. When that happens, it is treated as a bonus rather than the staple. A team’s fate rests in their own hands and the coaching staff and playing personnel are all too aware that performance delivery week after week is the gateway to success in a tournament such as the Gold Cup. One slip and it is literally a long, lonely trip home.


The spectator at Saturday’s match will encounter a contest between two teams with different motivation to deliver winning performances. The visitors from Windhoek will seek to end their participation on a high and earn some respect by avoiding a wineless pool stage. The hosts have the lofty aim of hosting a quarter final playoff at their beloved Phillip Herbstein fields, an enthralling venue especially when the club rugby followers attend in their numbers.


The match between the Bay and Western Suburbs licks off at 3pm and adding to the occasion are is a programme of rugby aimed at entertaining. The Old Boys of Zwaanswyk High and Bergvliet High Schools face off at 12.30pm and then the False Bay Academy face the Vusa Academy as the young age group friendly rivals face off.


All are welcome.

 - Jon Harris

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