THE GLORY YEARS
After the 2013 lifting of the SLB title and return to SLA, the way forward for False Bay was entrusted to new coaching panel. There were changes in the structure of the club management to, so it was indeed a dawning of a new era.
On the pitch the rugby and, more specifically the First XV, was entrusted to an untried group of coaches led by Johnno van der Walt. The rollercoaster existence of the Bay over the last decade was still fresh in the memory and one would not have been labelled cynical for not placing much hope on False Bay’s return to SLA being terribly long trip.
To some the appointment of van der Walt might have been an error, his apparent lack of experience in the role a little light for the rigours of contesting, and indeed surviving, the Super League A. However, his intellect and appreciation of the game was apparent from the beginning and his staunch belief in the proper preparation to play the game, from physical to analysis and gameplan, made his appointment a logical step.
As alluded to by Mike Poppmeier in his contribution, the players got together and took responsibility of their role, not expecting that to be the work of the coaches. van der Walt and his panel of Sla Williams (Assistant Coach), Chris Hewetson (Assistant Coach), Warren Berry and Lee Muller (Managers) had a group of players with vast experience with which to work.
These included Marc Davids, Justin van Winkel, Andre “Vlam” van Vuuren, Ryan Olivier, Frank Charlie, Ridhaa Damon, Andrew Whittaker, SP Blakely, Graham Knoop, Danie Roux, Justin Fillies and Andrie Klaasen.
A satisfactory return on investment for coaches and players alike was delivered that season.
Of the fourteen matches played, DirectAxis False Bay won ten. Their losses were:
VICS (away) 35-45
MATIES (away) 18-19
HAMMIES (home) 24-39
UCT (home) 13-21
In each of these games the Bay enjoyed a narrow lead but were unable to finish off and relinquished the advantage on their way to these losses. These defeats were narrow and False Bay took encouragement that they were not out of their depth against the big guns of the SLA.
2014 also saw the introduction of the President’s Cup. The Bay made the quarter finals, beating UWC to move on to face Northern rivals, Durbanville-Bellville. Again, as during the season, a decent lead was allowed to let slip and DirectAxis False Bay bowed out after a 20-31 defeat.
The losses, as disappointing as they may have been, gave the coaches and players cause for hope but also highlighted areas of improvement. There was a need to blood younger players and the services of tighthead prop Ashley Wells were secured who had just finished his professional career were retained. His impact over the next five or six seasons was immense.
Here are some statistics from the 2014 season, which may make for interesting reading: