The 2015 Club Rugby season kicks off this Saturday with the launch of the second Community Challenge.
Launched last year, the top five clubs from the WPRFU and the Boland RFU contest a one round competition which leads into a playoff between the top four teams. The winners are decided in a Grand Finale on 28 March. The top five clubs of the Western Province exclude the two universities (Varsity Cup) as well as Hamiltons and Durbanville-Bellville, who are participating in the Community Cup.
False Bay, SK Walmers, Belhar, Primrose and a Paarl Regional team will face Roses of Paarl, Vredenburg, Saldanha Bay, Hawston and Never Despair of Malmesbury. Two matches will be contested on home turf and two away with the fifth on neutral grounds.
Club Rugby is not only about the First XVs playing. Yes, they are the flagship of any club, but club rugby is about broader-based participation and involvement. Club Days involving the other three competitive teams of each club, Seconds, Thirds and Under 20s, is what community based rugby epitomises and the Community Challenge recognises this important aspect in its format. Match days see the second- & third- stringers of each club playing each other and enjoying the camaraderie the game of rugby allows.
The Bay have an ideal opportunity during this competition to test their combinations. Coach Johnno van der Walt had the unenviable task of reducing his squad to 30 a fortnight ago. Blessed with depth of talent, he may well expect late charges for recognition from those unlucky not to have made the cut.
The Constantia club will be without their lock and captain Michael Poppmeier for the first two matches as he is currently overseas representing Germany in their World Cup qualifiers, one of them being Georgia.
Just as with professional rugby, the seasons are commencing way earlier than before. Mid February is by far the earliest that False Bay have played a competitive match and a late September finish to the season makes for a very tired squad if not properly managed. Van der Walt realises this. In his recent friendlies against Maties and UCT, he cleverly rotated his top fifty players and is certain to continue this trend during the Community Challenge.
It would be churlish to consider the Boland clubs easy prey. This astute man and his assistants will in not fall into this trap, nor will they forego an opportunity to secure early silverware for the cabinet in their newly-built Club Rugby Room. They are surely one of the favourites for this competition and with their off-season preparation and new acquisitions, they will be a team to watch in this pre-season competition as well as SLA2015.
False Bay travel to Vredenburg on Saturday in what is effectively a full round of away matches for Peninsula Club Rugby fans. The first match on the day is played at 1.30pm. The main game starts at 4pm. It will be an enthralling day, well worth the trip out to the friendly town of Vredenburg.
The Bay Under 20s host the first round of the Under 20 Section of the Community Challenge and will welcome Primrose to their grounds on Saturday. Kick off in Constantia is at 4pm. All are welcome.
On Saturday 21 February, the Bay host Roses of Paarl at Constantia.
STOR-AGE FALSE BAY & THE COMMUNITY CHALLENGE
by Jon Harris