One of the Southern Suburbs’ great rugby rivalries returns to Brookside on Saturday when Villager RFC host False Bay for the first time since 2013.
The Dirty Whites, as the Claremont based club is affectionately known, returned to the top flite of the Western Province Club Rugby competition at the beginning of 2018 after spending two years toiling tirelessly to gain the promotion that would elevate them amongst the province’s top clubs.
With a fresh, energetic committee in place, the Brooksiders tackled the demands of competing in the SLA, starting with the appointment of Clinton van Rensburg, the former Sharks flyhalf plying his trade as a coach in the Cape for the last number of years. WP Club Rugby is widely regarded as the toughest in the country and with good reason and Villager succeeded in their stated goal of surviving their first year back.
Wise strategy indeed as all too often clubs do not realise the intensity and pace of the SLA game and by time they have adapted, they are five games down the track without success and that is a start most teams struggle to overcome.
This season started well, with amongst other performances, a strong showing against Hamiltons in the annual Derby Day. Confidence began to flow into the team and by time their season kicked off, the Claremont lads were raring to go. Their league campaign started well with a routing of NTK at Brookside, followed by a walkover of Victorians and losses to Durbell and Brackenfell on Saturday. Those first five matches of the season under the belt and Villager are well ahead of those in the relegation zone, although churlish to speculate those contenders this early in the season.
Sideshows indeed and coach Kevin van Rensburg, brother of the aforementioned Clinton, will surely pay no heed to that. All that will matter is the next match, an enormous opportunity to earn respect with a credible performance and perhaps even a surprise by time the final whistle is sounded.
Last season, the Brooksiders travelled up to Constantia for their league match, and although the result showed some daylight between the teams, Villager delivered a comprehensive performance. They certainly never stood back for the Bay and on that performance alone, one was left wondering why they had not consistently produced more performances such as that. That performance, if used to motivate, would surely instill confidence in the Dirty Whites.
Let’s be honest, the Claremont boys have a tough task ahead of them, but one that is not insurmountable. Home ground advantage and the underdog tags certainly counts for something and followers of these two clubs would be well advised to find their way to Brookside.
False Bay by contrast are unbeaten after five outings in a season which has been more stop than go. Saturday saw them playing host to NTK, who competed exceptionally well for the first half hour, playing in spurts afterwards as the Bay ran them ragged in a 99-11 routing. The score, while a fair reflection of the Bay does little justice to the Parow team who competed well throughout against a team focused and determined to perform.
Adding value for money to the programme at Brookside on Saturday is the SuperSport Challenge match between the Zimbabwe Rugby Academy and the Eastern Province Elephants, which kicks off at midday. Flight availability to Port Elizabeth means that the Elephants have to catch a plane home at 4pm, so the rugby follower is in for a long day of quality entertainment.
The main game starts at 5pm and all are welcome.