ESCAPING THE SLB
The Bay were frustrated by the restrictive promotion/relegation system of one team up and one team down in place at the time. Even more restrictive was the competitiveness of the Super League B. While there is no denying that the SLA is a much higher level of rugby- widely regarded as the highest standard of club rugby in the county- the SLB is the most competitive.
Perhaps this claim lacks qualification. In the late 2000s and early 20-teens, leagues in the WP Club Rugby set-up comprised of twelve teams. As a result, teams participating in the SLB tended to be of similar strength and often the Championship would only be decided very late in the season. Consequently, the disappointment of stumbling at the last hurdle was immense.
Kevin Musikanth, who had played and the coached the Under 20 as Kallie Pretorius’s assistant at False Bay, returned in 2008. He had honed his skills at Villager RFC and was keen to show his ability at a higher level.
Musikanth joined in 2008 as Technical Advisor to Brendon Fogarty and the following season was appointed as Head Coach, with Fogarty taking over the Under 20 Section.
Kevin brought a newer approach to the club. The game was about structure and plays; situational preparation; fitness; and analysis. He utilized video analysis in match preparation, identifying the threats and weaknesses of opponents, reducing the variables along the way. He invested in his squad and got a healthy return on that investment.
“I was accepted and welcomed into the coaching fold”, said Musikanth. “I was given license and the freedom to coach and study the league”.
The Bay ended mid-table at the end of 2008. Notable victories that season were against Kuils River, something of a bogie team for the Bay, and Kraaifontein. “The team was superbly led by Justin Van Winkel and our boys showed what was possible”.
Indeed, that season proved to the team and club that promotion was possible.
Musikanth was promoted to share the coaching duties with Foggers for 2009, and a recruitment of players occurred. “Our coaching structure of Foggers, Ed O’Sullevan, Frans Boshoff and myself were tightly knit and our boys only dropped one game that season, losing away to Pniel Villagers 19-18”.
False Bay won the SLB in 2009. It was an emphatic club performance with the Seconds, Thirds and Under 20s joining the Firsts as League Champions.
That season the Bay drew 10-10 with Primrose and equally important was the fact that they beat UCT in the annual Mark Jordaan Day, proving that they could compete at the higher level.
As False Bay entered the SLA, there were the usual whispers of doubt as to their capacity to compete in the top league. On the one hand history did support this, all too often returns to the top flight being short-lived and followed by a demoralizing return to the second tier.
Perhaps this thinking meant that Musikanth’s False Bay were under-estimated but whatever the case, 2010 proved to be the year that the Bay would silence critics in an emphatic fashion. The team had been bolstered by the arrival of a number of players. Identifying players is an unfair process as exclusion insults. Some simply demand inclusion. Graham Knoop for instance, would go on to lead the team great success. However, one name which was set to become a household one in SA rugby was unveiled at Constantia, that of Demetri Catrakillis, who was pivotal in False Bay’s success in 2000.
All too often promotion to the SLA is summarily followed by relegation back to the SLB, a fate motivating all at False Bay to avoid. The latest example of that was Kraaifontein who returned to SLB after one season in the top league in 2010.
First up in the league competition were Hamiltons, the reigning SLA and National Club Champions. Many pondered the significance of the date of the match, played on the evening of 1 April 2010. The Bay defended courageously for the major part of that match but what was important was the 20-16 victory over their more fancied opponents. It was a shock result which started a buzz amongst the rugby fraternity.
Victories over Helderberg, Durbanville, VICS and SK Walmers followed with the specter of the Maties looming. The students, with a lineup which included the likes of Conrad Hoffman, JJ Engelbrecht, Paul Bosch, Johan Sadie and Josh Strauss took the pitch and 1 May 2010 became a watershed day in False Bay history, as they astounded with a 19-18 over the men in maroon.
The Bay were on top of the log and the subject of conversations around the Peninsula, their never-say-die attitude, their ace kicker Catrakilis and brave captain, van Winkel common points of discussion.
That season the Bay ended third on the table (joint second) and the heady success of the club was on the lips of so many.
2011 was a somewhat tougher year. The Bay package was no longer a surprise and the team found themselves the favourites and opponents, who normally owned that tag, were more than content with the underdog ticket for that fixture.
The Bay lost the services of Musikanth as he took a sabbatical for 2012 and found themselves back in the SLB as one of two teams relegated. The normal dispensation was a one-up-one-down format, but it had been decided that two teams would drop, and the Constantia club narrowly qualified to join Villager in the second tier after Tygerberg upset UCT in their all-important match.
Musikanth returned for the 2013 season, a return to SLA the immediate goal.
2013 saw the emergence of another soon-to-be-a-household name, that of Huw Jones, who was on a gap year stint as a stooge at Bishops. Another notable addition was Mike Poppmeier, who had come across from Villagers to captain the side.
False Bay completed that season with just one loss suffered, against UWC away. The Bay were dominant throughout that season, clearly a team in the wrong league and won promotion to earn the right to return to the top flight.
Recognition of Musikanth’s ability as a coach came during that season when UCT appointed him as Director of Rugby to replace Kevin Foote. It was a goal of the dynamo to have the opportunity to coach at Varsity Cup level and the Bay, reluctantly parted company with the man who had done more than his fair share to bring the club this far. For the second half of that season Musikanth was dividing his time between UCT and the Bay, entrusting more and more of the workload to his assistant, Johnno van der Walt and Slab Williams.
For the second time in four years False Bay’s Firsts, Seconds, Thirds and Under 20s all won their respective leagues.
Musikanth moved on to great success at UCT, taking the Varsity Cup the following year. At home in Constantia, the Club should faith in van der Walt and Williams and appointed the former as Director of Rugby to replace Musikanth.
“I owe most of my coaching career to False Bay and will always view The Bay as home away from home”’ said Musikanth. “And I will forever treasure those special memories, those rugby moments in time”.