NEW FRONTIERS AT BLUE JETS
The long mid-season break sees all clubs taking an enforced hiatus of up to six weeks from competition. There to accommodate Varsity mid-year vacation, the break has many players kicking their heels in frustration as they itch to get back onto the field.
The WPRFU, architects of the extended break designed a competition between interested clubs of varying strength and level of league. Initially eight clubs subscribed but this was unfortunately whittled away by withdrawals and a two-week competition started lasted Saturday.
What transpired on Saturday was the enactment of the inspiration for the tournament, two clubs in different leagues competing at venues they have never visited before, building relationships and enjoying the sport of rugby. False Bay RFC, the only Super League A club to enter, travelled to Khayalitsha to face Blue Jets, currently lying mid-table in the Super League C. The Bay, with a number of players returning from injury desperately needing game time, sent three teams, including an Under 20 outfit to take on the Jets, till then a totally unknown quantity to them. These teams excluded first choice players from their First XV as well as their high-performing Under 20 squad.
Blue Jets RFC showed their ability in each of the matches, surprising their opponents who had to pull out the stops to deliver the result they expected. Big, fit and strong, the Jets played the game at pace, throwing the ball around with abandon, uncompromising in the tackle, always in support of the ball carrier and ever the gentlemen in contact. The False Bay Invitation XV nevertheless scored two tries in the opening quarter.
The Jets never gave in, fiercely contesting the ball on the ground all the while using their big forwards to gain ground with clever, well-executed rolling mauls and drives. False Bay prop Khona Dabhula stood out with his power defence, while Shaun Garbers, Cameron Rinquest and Alan de Klerk also caught the eye for the visitors. Bay flank Jake Rigby impressed with ball in hand before leaving the pitch with a rib injury and skipper Russell Steyn led from the front. Many of the home team were equally impressive but unfortunately their names were not available for inclusion in this report.
At the back flyhalf Cyprian Ainslie marshalled his line impressively, allowing outside backs Leighton Bezuidenhout, Tauriq Davids and Edwill Godfrey the time and space to shine.
The Blue Jets superior fitness started to count against the visitors, most of whom normally play 30-minute halves and started to puff against their hosts but brave defence by the Constantia outfit kept a resurgent Jets team at bay. The final score was 33-17 in favour of the visitors.
That old cliché that rugby was the winner on the day was never truer on Saturday at the Khayelitsha Stadium. The hosts played the game with a passion seldom witnessed by the visitors. They hosted their opponents with pride and a hunger for the opportunity to measure themselves against opposition from a higher league. The fields at the Khayelitsha Stadium were filled with passionate players enjoying the game they love.
“What a great day of rugby”, said Tony Wilson-Harris False Bay Invitation XV Manager. “There were four women’s teams battling it out on the other two fields, other men’s league games going on and then our games, and all in the spirit of rugby.
“We loved being there and were welcomed by the spectators and teams alike”.
The day delivered entertaining rugby. The False Bay Invitational XV overcame a competitive Blue Jets 22-0, while the Bay Under 20s convincingly beat their hosts 38-0. There were some wonderful asides on this day of friendship. Visiting Frenchman, Remy Julian not unexpectedly took a wrong turn and arrived at Mandela Park instead. After getting directions from his team mates, the young man arrived at the correct venue with a wide smile on his face, another chapter in his African Adventure written.
Plans are afoot for False Bay to host Blue Jets in a return friendly fixture at Constantia in what will hopefully become an enduring relationship between the two clubs.
The “final” of this competition takes place in a fortnight, but already these two clubs are winners.