28 October 2017
Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography
False Bay RFC were crowned national club champions when they beat College Rovers of Durban at a packed Phillip Herbstein Grounds in Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 30-18 after the Bay lead 20-10 at the break.
Barely 24 hours before the eagerly anticipated final, the two teams visited the Miracle Kidz Safe House in Tokai, a place where vulnerable children can find safety, hope and love. The haven has been a weekly destination for the Constantia team as they interact with the children and the College Rovers players requested to join the Bay team on their Friday visit.
The following day, in front of easily the largest crowd ever to attend a Bay match at home, some of the children were amongst those walking the hosts onto the pitch, a very special moment indeed. The Wynberg Boys High School Pipe Band added to the occasion as they enthralled the crowd, their bagpipes lending gravity to an already exciting build up. After the National Anthem was sung, the crowd took their places for the eagerly awaited contest.
What followed was more than eighty minutes of high quality rugby as both sides held nothing back in their quest for Gold Cup glory. The visitors were first to score when fullback Gavin Scott dissected the uprights with a penalty kick. Moments later the hosts struck back with a try by Danie Roux after flank Taps Tsamondo caught the visitors unawares with a quick tap penalty before offloading to left wing Marcello Sampson who looped an overhead pass for Roux to canter in. Minutes later Sampson crossed the line to make it a try apiece for the wings and fullback Adnaan Osman gave False Bay a two score lead with the conversion.
Minutes later Tsamondo then galloped for the line, his try affording the hosts a fourteen point cushion and the home support the opportunity to catch their collective breath.
Rovers pivot Chris Jordaan, playing in his swansong after more than a decade at the Durban club, then silenced the crowd when he crossed for a five pointer, which Scott converted. The blond flyhalf, returning to de Doorns at the end of the year was a constant threat to the Bay defences and his cleaver general play was a hallmark of the Rovers performance.
Osman converted a penalty to give the home side a ten point half time lead.
The restart saw a passionate and committed Rovers throwing everything at their hosts, pretty much owning the third quarter of this enthralling contest. They threw everything they had at their opponents and their cleaver, angled running in the three quarter line at times opened gaps which had the Bay defences scrambling. Scott reduced False Bay’s lead to seven points and with an apparent ascendancy in proceedings taking place, the Durbanites looked ominous.
A fumbled pass with an open line beckoning was perhaps the turning point in the match as False Bay headed the wakeup call and applied a stranglehold that their guests battled to escape. As the hour mark approached and False Bay’s replacements were introduced, they squirmed out of the grip applied by the visitors and began to return to the ascendancy.
Roux crossed the line for his second try in front of an ecstatic “Bay Army”, their fervor beyond control as they realized that the score was the final blow to the Rovers challenge.
Both squads threw everything they had into the contest and it would perhaps be remiss to single out individual performances in a thoroughly enthralling contest.
Securing the Gold Cup is the highest achievement for the Constantia club, made all the more remarkable when it is considered that in 2003 they were relegated to Division One, the third league in the WP.
Coach Johnno van der Walt was named Gold Cup Coach of the Year and captain Graham “Snoopy” Knoop was awarded the Player of the Year trophy.
“We are happy, proud, and chuffed with a sense of achievement for everyone involved at the Bay”, says van der Walt. “It was a massive effort with a lot of time having gone into this season”.
“We played 3 finals in a row” said van der Walt in reference to False Bay’s knockout itinerary. Firstly the came back at the death to snatch victory and a home knock-out run from Rovers, then they beat Rustenberg Impala to whom they had lost in the final of Gold Cup 2016, and then a week later before a passionate Cape crowd, they eclipsed Rovers to take the title.
“What a feeling it is to be crowned national club rugby champions, he says with modest enthusiasm.
Gold Cup 2017 has surpassed the success of last season’s tournament as the competition goes from strength to strength under the dedicated guidance of Duane Heath, Project Manager Gold Cup and as the curtain falls on this season’s enthralling competition, the final word belongs to the driving force behind the competition.
"This was the best Gold Cup ever and the final was a fitting finale to a memorable tournament that saw record crowds and excellent rugby. Hats off to False Bay for organising the best final in the tournament's history."
- Jon Harris