False Bay RFC’s Sevens team, affectionately known as Blitzbay, ended the pool stages on top of their table despite losing two of their four final round matches last Saturday.
Needing three wins to end in pole position, Blitzbay swept
St George’s of Strand aside in a 49-5 rout but then narrowly lost to Bellville 14-19 after a yellow card gave the winners a numerical advantage which they gratefully exploited.
Next up was the physically imposing Brackenfell and the Bay suffered their second loss on the day.
Suddenly their backs were against the wall as Durbell, False Bay’s friendly rivals, ominously loomed but the Constantia unit stage a fightback to beat the Durbanville team to remain on top of the group and ensure top seeding for the finals.
Played between 36 of the Western Province Rugby Football Union’s (WPRFU) local clubs, this competition has enthralled those who have made the trip to Milton Road.
While the bigger clubs such as Maties, Durbell, False Bay, UWC, Belhar and Brackenfell may have the firepower to deliver game in and game out, the smaller clubs have in no small way contributed to the spectacle through their commitment and entertaining play.
Collegians, Eerste River, Macassar and Langa are just a few clubs on the programme delivering sparkling, fast-paced Sevens rugby every week.
It’s now that stage of the competition where further participation is decided by the next match.
Win and progression to the next knockout stage is the prize.
Lose and it is a shower and a seat on the stands in time for the next match. It is a strange oddity of the tournament that sixteen of the eighteen teams in each of the two pools now compete in the knockouts. It is not an impossibility that a bottom four finisher can win the tournament.
Maties suffered defeat twice last Saturday, encouraging the belief of the minnows that glory is theirs for the taking. The winner of the tournament will be required to win five matches in one afternoon which is effectively a “last-team-standing” scenario given that pool stages had four matches per day with a lot less at stake. “Title hopes can so easily be crushed by the wicked bounce of a rugby ball or a single moment of brilliance,” says Blitzbay coach Pieter Benade.
“We have a good chance to progress deep into the playoffs but we have our work cut out for us.”
With the Bay’s main squad participating in the Gold Cup until last week, Benade has used a core of players who are no less talented and who have risen to the challenge. “Leon Oliver and Curtley Johnson have caught the eye”, says Benade, “while Leighton “Kat” Bezuidenhout’s captaincy has been outstanding”.
Meanwhile the Bay celebrated their most successful year in their 87 year history when they held Annual Awards Dinner at the Kelvin Grove last Friday night. Their six competitive senior teams all ended in the top three of their respective leagues, the First and Sixth XVs each taking their respective titles. Their Under 21 As were the first non-University team in their league. The Bay’s remarkable year brings about new challenges and they recognise the need to be prepared to carry the mantle of champions and no longer be the underdogs.
Players received rewards in various categories with First XV captain Graham Knoop deservedly receiving his team’s Player of the Year award. Coaches Benade and Ryan van Niekerk, along with team manager Ian Morris (amongst others) received Club Honours, while Vice Chairman Graham Garbers was made an Honorary Life Member.
The most popular recipient of the evening undoubtedly was Mrs Fatima Brink, mother of scrumhalf Ridhaa Damon, who received the Jean Clarke Trophy for
the Outstanding Supporter of 2016. Mrs Brink never misses a game, irrespective of weather or venue and her dedication was suitably recognised and accompanied by a standing ovation to boot.
The WP Sevens wraps up on Saturday. False Bay’s first knockout match is against Silvertree and kicks off at 12 noon. The Goodwood Sports Grounds are
in Milton Road, Goodwood.