After the Youth Day long weekend break, the Super League A (SLA) resumes with False Bay hosting traditional rivals Tygerberg at Constantia on Saturday.
The league approaches the midway point with current log positions reflecting a different profile than usual.
Historically the top end of the table invariably includes the two University of Stellenbosch teams, Maties and Victorians, but the table after approximately six rounds is decidedly different. With the withdrawal of Victorians from the SLA, last position on the table has been reserved for the maroon-hooped Maties second-stringers, which would allay relegation fears for some clubs as this means only one other team joins the students on this lonely bus down to SLB.
There is, however, lots of rugby to be played before that point and for False Bay, they enter a sequence of fixtures which will test their capabilities and depth. Having played five games plus their cancelled Vics fixture, the Bay is currently in second position, six points behind logleaders UCT who have played two more matches than the Bay.
The Bay’s five matches to date have been against teams they would be expected to beat, but they now embark on a schedule of matches against the top eight clubs on consecutive Saturdays.
First up is Tygerberg. The two clubs have enjoyed a friendly rivalry which is left in the changerooms for the duration of the contest. Matches between the two clubs over recent seasons have been close and entertaining affairs, and Saturday promises to be no exception.
Tygerberg appointed former Hamilton coach Anton Moolman as director of rugby this season and his presence adds spice to the fixture. Moolman is an accomplished coach and won both the SLA and Community Cup while at the Hamilton helm.
Tygerberg took the spoils in the pre-season friendly against False Bay at Florida Park in March, but much water has flowed under the bridge since then.
The Ravensmead team have also contested six matches with as many wins as losses in their SLA campaign to date. Granted, they have faced some of the tougher teams in the league so far, including Gold Cup Finalists, Durbanville-Bellville, Hamilton and UWC. Come Saturday, the log position and the won/loss ratio counts for nought, while team preparedness, execution and desire are the base incredients of success.
False Bay coach Johnno van der Walt is a stickler for fitness and prepares his teams for 100-minute matches. Their performances during his tenure have been characterised by patient play, absorbtion of pressure and then a kick into overdrive as the puff in the opponents appears to have gone.
Tygerberg are a tennacious outfit and even when it appears that they are out of contention, they seem to strike back and rattle their opposition with their tenacity as they sense victory. So far this season this season, the Bay have absorbed everything their opponents have thrown at them and as the game loosens up with gaps opening through lethargy, they strike to wrest the game from the frail grip of their adversaries.
Added to this, False Bay has played an entertaining brand of rugby which has seen the ball being kept alive, reducing rucks and mauls, thereby sapping the energy of the opposing forwards.
The Bay’s last two opponents are testimony to this. The Parow-based NTK and Villager, from Claremont, would have felt comfortable with their scores at the break, but were simply blown away with the Bay’s fast-paced second-half swamping. It is not the main match which is the only attraction.
False Bay’s Third XV is currently unbeaten, heading their table with their opponents right behind them, while the second-stringers of both clubs enter this fixture unbeaten with much at stake.
Jon Harris is a member of False Bay Rugby Club.