After a 2019 season which can most certainly be regarded as a success, False Bay have pulled off something of a coup in the appointment of Ashley Wells and Richard Lawson as coaches for the Under 20 section. They will be strongly supported by manager Harold Kesler, an experienced administrator and team man whose strong presence adds to the smooth-running of a squad and the general club experience of the players.
In a league dominated by Stellenbosch and UCT Universities, False Bay ended a credible fifth on the table last season, the foundation for continued success.
A common phenomenon is that young players lose interest in rugby after school, Varsity Cup and "Koshuis Rugby" a drain on talent. Yet the sport has a prominent role in the development of young adults as he enters post-school life. The disciplines and social interaction involved has a positive position in the development of young men.
As is the case with any sport or discipline, development marches side by side with age and when players leave the game they feel there is no point in continuing, it is most disheartening. Yet this should not be the case.
Club Rugby is a microcosm of society and its dynamics, demands and exposure to different people and challenges.
Wells and Lawson are two men with a long history in the game, both very aware of the benefits of the game. They first played rugby together in the Wynberg Boys High School First XV of 2003. Since then, they have shared changerooms playing for Griquas, Western Province and False Bay. More importantly, their rugby ethos, one based on building friendships on and off the pitch, the team dynamic exponentially growing as a by-product of this loyalty to one's friend, is a deeply shared one.
"We, as a group, want to have FUN", says Wells. "As a group we need to know each individual that makes up our team / squad. I think in today’s society, people are so quick to cut and paste their lives and not really care about anyone but themselves. We want the youngsters to really know each other; they must socialise together and enjoy each other's company. That’s what rugby is made of. If we have a happy squad - we will have a happy outcome for the season".
Wells and Lawson honour this philosophy. They were members of False Bay's Gold Cup winning squad, integral cogs of the team dynamic. They are well qualified in the dynamics of this team sport, their participation as Professional and Amateur players adding to the experience available to their new charges.
Lawson played Craven Week for WP and SA Schools in 2004, following that up with WP caps from U19 to a number of Currie Cup games in 2008. He was selected for the Emerging Springboks team of that year. He was a member of the team which won the National Championships in Romania. Following that sojourn, Lawson played at Griquas until 2014.
"At the end of 2015 I had a serious car crash and called time on my rugby days, but one night at a braai at Ash’s house, I lost a bet and he convinced me to come play a season at False Bay. It was the best bet I ever lost", said Lawson who went on to play for three seasons at the Bay.
Getting Wells to speak about himself is quite a challenge. His disarming modesty a standard of his motivational personality.
After playing for Wynberg Boys High School he received a bursary to attend UCT where he played for the Ikey Tigers. He was a member of the Varsity Cup winning team of 2005. Wells then played for WP Juniors and Vodacom Cup at the age of 20.
In 2004 he travelled to New Zealand to play NPC. After playing there for a year, he returned home where he played for WP and Ikeys for a further 3 years.
In 2010, Wells left Cape Town with his wife and daughter to ply his rugby trade (as he calls it) in Kimberley, where he joined his friend Lawson. After a season at Griquas, Wells was approached by the Newcastle Falcons. After 2 years in the UK, he then returned home to play for the Pumas and decided to go to France for his final two seasons of professional rugby.
"I received a call from Johnno van der Walt to come to the Bay and I started my False Bay career in 2014, ending it in 2017 after 3 very enjoyable, fulfilled years. I was tremendously proud to finish my last season by proudly lifting the Supersport Challenge Cup and Gold Cup. Special memories”.
Any young player looking to develop his rugby while expanding his integration into life after high school would feel more than comfortable with these two coaches in their corner, men who have most certainly been there-done that. Their wealth of rugby knowledge and experience matched with the ability to share it with young, hungry players will certainly be of great value to those joining this special rugby club.
Please feel welcome to join. Practices are on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The Tuesday session is a Crossfit evening at False Bay Crossfit in Retreat while the other two sessions are Field outings at False Bay RFC.