GOING FOR GOLD
6 September 2017
DirectAxis False Bay RFC start their Gold Cup campaign against Boland Champions, Roses United at Constantia with the matchday schedule boasting a humdinger of a curtain-raiser. The Constantia club’s “other First XV” take on old foe Hamiltons in a semi-final of Western Province’s President’s Cup.
The Bay qualified for the Gold Cup, SA Rugby’s National Club Championships by finishing top amongst the non-University teams in this year’s Super League A. They were runners-up in last year’s competition and while this carried no weight in qualifying for the 2017 tournament, the value of the experience is immeasurable. Gold Cup 2017 is different for coach Johnno van der Walt and his team, but essentially the differences are in terms of travel and opposition. The rigors of the competition remain the same, the challenges of travel, weather and unfamiliar surroundings a great leveler in away games. Yet there is one advantage Graham Knoop and his team carry into this year’s tournament and that is the experience of contesting the final.
No, False Bay’s berth is not booked in this year’s final, there are five tough encounters awaiting the two finalists, but the Bay will surely find last year’s experience invaluable. They were soundly beaten in the final by Rustenberg Impala but the lessons learnt on that journey will prove invaluable this year.
“A national club competition like this is very different to the SLA or the respective leagues around the country”, says van der Walt. “In the SLA we know what to expect from our opposition whereas in the Gold Cup we encounter different teams who are all champions of their respective leagues; who we have never encountered before, play a different style of rugby and are equally determined to do well”.
False Bay encounter Boland League champions, Rosses United first up. The Roses are no strangers to winning leagues having been crowned Boland champions a number of times already. While the Bay does boast an impressive home record, the result is never taken as a given and van der Walt certainly won’t allow his charges room for complacency. One thing both teams share is a determination to take this opportunity and perform on a higher stage.
“Our process is simple”, says van der Walt. “If a team trains hard and puts in the effort, the opposition has to play really well to beat that team and that is how we approach every game”. It is a simple philosophy which is the backbone of the Bay’s recent seasons and the results lend credence to the belief.
False Bay’s two away games cannot be more different from each other. One is against College Rovers in Durban, the other in Sishen against Griquas champions IMT Sishon. Their other home fixture is against Western Suburbs of Namibia. “We will do very well to end as one of the top two of our pool and progress to the knock-out stages”, says the coach cautiously.
Caution is a hallmark of the coach but in a tournament such as this, that is the best policy. Rugby styles differ from region to region but if last year’s Gold Cup is a measurement, running rugby will again be the norm with all teams displaying a willingness to “let the ball do the talking” as the cliché goes. A sound defence structure will be central to any team’s success but the capacity to score tries when opportunity beckons is equally important.
“We are a young side with a few old heads”, says van der Walt. “We have speed, we have skill and a huge X factor component. We enjoy scoring tries and to get top spot in our pool we are simply going to have to do this come game day”.
The depth at Constantia will be tested on Saturday as False Bay’s “other” First XV face Hamiltons in a President’s Cup semi-final, the curtain-raiser to the Gold Cup match. It’s a day of rugby guaranteed to enthrall the club ruby fan. Depth at the Bay abounds and it is the ideal opportunity for players to display their talent, Hamiltons guaranteed to finish their successful season with some silverware for their display cabinet.
Two young Under 20 players who have been training with van der Walt’s squad and who are expected to face Hamiltons are flyhalf Dominic Coetzee and eighthman Laaic Felton and they join a number of players chomping at the bit to showcase their talents on Saturday.
False Bay’s President’s Cup match kicks off at 1.30 and their Gold Cup match starts at 3pm. All are welcome.