The name is misleading, “The Reserve League”. It’s the name given by the WPRFU for the league which is contested between the ‘extra’ teams of a number of clubs. Every club in the SLA & SLB has to field a minimum of three competitive senior teams.
Some clubs have sufficient numbers to fill more than the minimum and this league has been created to accommodate these clubs. Here is where the misconception arises. The Reserve League is not brimming with teams filled up with reserves, players not good enough to participate in their club’s higher teams. On the contrary, many teams are populated by players most capable of competing higher up but for various reasons they have chosen to play in the Reserve League.
Many of these teams are ‘squad teams’, ie teams which are closed to other members of those specific clubs. UCT field two in this nine-team league (ten if one counts the Western Zebras who should have been called the Quaggas because they’re extinct), as do Villager. Other clubs fielding teams are Goodwood, Durbell, Helderberg and of course False Bay RFC with two teams.
The Reserve League matches are all played on a Friday night, which has created a welcome diversion from the overcrowded situation which could easily descend upon a facility which has limited field space and change room facilities, as does the Bay. It is the “Friday Night Lights”, the popular description for matches taking place that is fast becoming an institution at most of the clubs participating, none more so than at False Bay and our geographical cousins, Villager.
Those taking the time to attend these contests soon discover that the quality of rugby is very high and the competition between clubs is even higher. Teams get to know each other on and off the field by virtue of the squad team system. This heightens the competitive edge and stakes somewhat. Play against a team with more or less the same personnel year in and year out and the rivalry is guaranteed to become intense.
Fortunately this is soon forgotten when the final whistle blows and the camaraderie of this unique sport is enjoyed in the pub afterwards. It is this all round entertainment concept which is winning over more and more fans, hungry for a little real rugby and fun at the same time. Whenever these matches take place at False Bay, there are hordes of spectators and the enjoyment factor soars as the teams relax in each other’s post match company.
The new False Bay members bar facility has added a new dimension to this experience.
And so we come to the “Ultimate Derby” as this Friday’s contest has been named. The False Bay FIFOs (Fourth Team) host the False Bay Fifth Team at Constantia at 7pm.
It is a much anticipated contest.
The FIFOs are second on the Reserve League Table behind Durbell but with one game in hand. A victory this Friday night will give them the lead and one may think it is almost Club duty to allow them the victory. But this is rugby and as Naas Botha would say, “cowboys don’t cry”. Look no further than the recent S15 contest between the Bulls and the Lions, which saw the Lions destroy the Bulls in the match and at the same time practically destroy their chances of reaching the playoffs.
“Ain’t no free lunches here pardner”, continuing the Wild West analogy.
The FIFOs have been together for a number of years, eight to be exact and they have built up a strong personal identity as well as an esprit de corps which is second to none. They are enjoying the fruits of these eight years labour, now a tight-knit and very competent team.
By contrast, the False Bay Fifths are a feeder team, with personnel often being promoted after a week or two in that team. They do not have the luxury of having been together for a number of years and knowing their team mates date of birth, star sign and blood group. They should, in theory, stand no chance against their more settled clubmates and should only provide a contest more through passion than efficiency.
To take that on face value would be the biggest mistake FIFO coach Mark Douglas can make, and he is not keen on making any.
The FIFTHs train with the Third XV every Tuesday and Thursday which has benefitted their performances somewhat. Players called upon to represent False Bay higher up slot into the team systems effortlessly and the expert coaching of Pieter Benade complements that of Alan Footman perfectly. The result is that the Fifths, after a slow start to the season and a 33-0 drubbing against Durbell, has stood up to be counted and although having played one more match than the other frontrunners, they are in with a shout if they do not drop unnecessary league points over the next few matches.
What more inspiration for False Bay, the Bay Fifths or FIFOs that is? The Fifths to overcome their much vaunted brothers and stay in the hunt and the FIFOs to hit the front in this tough league.
Although a cliché, the true winners will be the spectators who turn out in large numbers to witness hard core rugby played with passion, finesse and heart and then are given the chance to relax with those who played and lap up the camaraderie in the afterglow of the contest.
Are you going to be a winner on Friday night? Come on down to False Bay RFC at the Philip Herbstein fields to enjoy the evening’s entertainment.
Kick off is at 7pm.