Fishermen defy the odds to establish a rugby legacy

Kalk Bay Marines First XV pictured in 1957.

MARK WARD

The history of Kalk Bay, an historic fishing village nestled between St James and Fish Hoek on the False Bay coast, cannot be told without mentioning the heroics of its rugby heroes.

Rugby luminaries such Dale Santon, Aslam Toefy, the Poggenpoel and the Almazan brothers and many more formed part of an array of players at Kalk Bay Marines RFC who contributed to the rich history of the community, which was established in 1948.

The club even defied the apartheid government; despite not having a home ground, the men from the Fisherman’s Flats defied the Group Areas Act which declared the Village a whites-only area in 1967.

Kalk Bay Marines as featured in an old newspaper clipping from 1987.

While many were forced to sell their homes and move to other designated areas in the Cape, the rugby stalwarts continued to enhance the legacy of the club by having to prepare for matches in areas such as Lavender Hill and playing their home games at the Green Point Track.

The Kalk Bay Marines team from the 80s that won the Kagee Moosa Cup, at Green Point Track.

They even went onto produce the first black Springbok in the post-unification era, which took effect in 1992 from the non-racial fold, when Dale Santon donned the Springbok-jersey and went on to play in four test matches for the national side.

Santon made his debut for the Marines as a raw but talented player from Spine Road High School in Mitchell’s Plain at the age of 15. He went on to make a huge impact and became a household name for both the Green Point-based Western Province Rugby Union and later on Boland where he played over 100 matches.

Former Kalk Bay Marines captain, Ebrahim Adams.

“As small as this club was, it played a pivotal role in many top players’ careers. This was the first club I joined while I was still at school. They helped to shape me for the future. But I can tell you they were a force in those days. Greatest underdogs (laughter).

The historic Fisherman’s Flats.

“You must remember we were the only club in the deep south at the time and today there is no rugby club in that area. But, yes, fond memories. We are still great friends and we often come together and talk about those days and see how we can assist the present generation of players and contribute positively to our greater communities,” said Santon.

The legendary Aslam Toefy joined the Marines as a 21-year-old in 1974 where he established his career as a bulldozing lock-forward and eight-man. He went on to establish himself as a national SARU player and was famously known as “The Enforcer.”

Ebrahim Adams, 61, a former captain and scrumhalf, recalls the glory days of the Marines and is presently trying his utmost to preserve the history of the club.

Adams reminisced of the days where they came together at the Fisherman’s Flats. “The get-together was a special moment,” he recounts.

“There were players like Richard and Aubrey Poggenpoel who many regard as the most outstanding players of their time – Springbok quality players.

“I remember during the early 80s we played on the Track in Green Point where we won the Kagee Moosa Cup by winning eight of 11 games. That was a great team.

“When unification came the club just fell apart. Players like Dale went to Violets and others moved to Peninsula which is still going strong.

“I started a WhatsApp group to somehow preserve history. I don’t think we will ever restart the club because we are now in a professional era where it’s about money. But many others like myself want to leave this legacy behind that Kalk Bay had a rugby club, rich with history who contributed to where we find ourselves.

“One of the greatest aspects of our time was the community spirit which rugby brought about. This is sadly lacking in our society today. There is no sense of community spirit, no wonder we are moving backwards,” Adams said.

Adams says while there was no home ground for them to play in Kalk Bay, they would meet at the home of Nazeem Toefy, brother of Aslam, in Parkwood. “We trained in Lavender Hill or at Sunrise Beach or at Zandvlei. But nothing would stop us during those times to play sports,” added Adams.