2013 has been an outstanding year for False Bay Rugby, both on and off the field. We made the Super League B our own, as evidenced at the recent WP Rugby Awards Dinner where we took a clean sweep of trophies with league winning performances by the 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and under 20A’s. Furthermore outstanding benchmarks were set by the Firsts averaging over 50 points a game, the Seconds scoring a Full-House of 90 League points and the Thirds having less than five points per game, on average, scored against them. One can’t ask for more than that, but more was offered by a strong 4th Team and competitive 5ths, active Crocks section and a game ladies team. Disappointing perhaps was that our under 20 section could not sustain a competitive B team throughout the year and that our Academy is still struggling to maintain a consistent profile. We remain a strong, active and diverse rugby club of which I am proud to be a part.
The flagship of the Club is always the first team and as they grew in stature, through the season, one could not but reflect on how they might have fared in the SLA, this season, particularly given the pre-season victories against SLA teams. That will remain conjecture. What we will now have to discover is our capability and competitiveness in the SLA of 2014, going into an entirely new format competition, aligned with Super Rugby. It remains to be seen how that will turn out - I have concerns about enough rugby being played and about enough competition for the lower sides in the club. Your new committee will have to manage this well, plan ahead and look at opportunities to fill the gaps, perhaps through friendlies or tours. To me the reduced programme suits the universities and the religious clubs who need to take extensive in-season breaks. The new Community Cup also gives a fuller season for selected participant Clubs, besides putting them onto the national stage and surely, as that develops, it must become our goal, to be a part of.
What I do know, with respect to 2014, is that our new coaching setup of Jonno vd Walt, Chris Hewetson and Ryan Williams will ensure a thorough and professional approach and that we will be ready for the challenge of whatever the new league holds. Formal training starts next week. We wish them well and look forward to supporting their endeavours.
Let us not forget that the year did not start off too well, with Kurt Botha’s untimely passing and a void in the coaching setup which had to be rapidly patched, but what a success that turned out to be with Pieter Benade’s guidance, a string of strong performances proved fitting tribute for the departed Kurt. I could not help but think, at his funeral so well-supported by you and the tribute led by our Club Captain, how important it is to be fully a part of something, as one grows up and grows older, particularly in this dysfunctional world in which we live. The Award of the Kurt Botha Cup at the end of the season will be an ongoing acknowledgement of his role in the Club.
February also saw the first Craft Beer Festival, much due to the efforts of our Club Captain Mike Chowles and what a pleasant weekend that proved to be, besides bringing in some much needed income for the club.
For a long time our club has been looking tired and I was particularly pleased with the efforts of your Committee and especially Marius Conradie in bringing some significant improvements to the facilities. I have to also mention our relationship with the City, through FMC Gildale, or particularly with our Councillor, Liz Brunette, who has been like a breath of fresh air, to what had previously been something of a stalemate situation. These combined efforts resulted in our fields being re-grassed and our perimeter fencing being upgraded at last, with an improvement to the shocking security and vagrancy situations we have had to endure over the years. There is no doubt that our e-scoreboard has added to the presence of the Club and well done to all involved in bringing this to fruition.
The cherry on the top is that extensive negotiation has taken place, over the last year, with funding partners, to upgrade our Clubhouse and make it a great place to be and you will know that refurbishment is currently underway. We need it to be a smarter, busier facility, with sustainable income throughout the year and to be a preferred destination for sports viewing. We have tried that ourselves with limited success. We need it to grow the value of membership and enhance the membership experience. There have been one or two glitches on the building approvals side but we are confident that things will soon be on track. A professional operator has been appointed to up the food and beverage offering (and they will in fact host the food and beverage component at our Crocks Tour game tomorrow night - Fri 1 Nov). It is an exciting time for our Club.
The opening functions to look forward to will be 1. A players’ braai; 2. A 100 Club function; and 3. An Opening night event. On that score I want to thank all those who have been involved in our Potjie Day, Non-players Cheese and Wine, Awards Dinner and 100 Club events through the year. The WPKidz Rugby Day was also a highlight. Looking ahead we will need to plan better and involve the new F&B manager, Richard, of our scheduled events.
It was great to have Max Price’s daughter Katharine do the handover of her late father’s trophy at the Awards Dinner earlier this month and also to acknowledge Matthew Napoleon with Life Membership and Derek Louwrens who played for the Bay over 50 years ago, for still being our Number 1 supporter, in winning the Jean Clarke Trophy. To me it again epitomized the life journey of being a member of a great Club and a part of something special. We exist through others. We can sit in our lounges, watch television, go shopping - or we can choose to contribute through and for others, to make a difference in our society, by being a part of The Bay. I feel quite strongly that membership should be a lifelong journey and that, though you may go somewhere else, the Bay never leaves you. To that end I have asked our membership boffins to package our membership accordingly. With the new joint venture we will control some of that at point of sale and incentivize through tiered discounting, ensuring at all times that Playing members of the Bay get the biggest discount at The Bar. We also plan to introduce a new category of Affiliate Membership by getting THE BAY SUPPORTERS CLUB up and running. This will be a space for wives and girlfriends, social members, children and friends of members to show their support and identify with the Bay brand (t-shirts, sleepovers, birthday parties). How big can we go? Wayne James has been behind this too. If I were to set two targets for 2014, it would be to make our FB JUNIOR RUGBY ACADEMY and THE BAY SUPPORTERS CLUB successful operational entities (well, besides winning the SLA and going National to the Community Cup, of course).
Enough has been said about the Primrose encounter and the time and energy wasted to salve that situation. We still have a way to go. We will have to reconsider our fieldside arrangements and we must also examine our own attitudes and reactions, both on and off the field.
Off the field and behind the scenes so much work goes towards running the business that is False Bay Rugby. I want to express my sincere thanks for the efforts of the 2013 Committee and their courage in facing the challenges which confront us daily.
After a sterling period of service Jon Evans is enjoying a break and Miggie Bloor takes over, as acting club manager, until we are able to better define the role. We are truly grateful to Jon and will rely on Miggie through the summer to safeguard our assets and ensure effective communication with the new JV partners.
Let’s make 2014 special.