It was a disappointing weekend for the two sides representing the KZNRU in the Cell C Community Cup last Saturday, with SA Home Durban Collegians being stunned by a hugely passionate Wesbank outfit from Malmsbury in front of their 2000 joyous supporters from the local community, illustrating the importance of the club game in the bigger picture of South African Rugby, something that former Sharks, Scottish and Springbok hooker John Allan has always been advocating over the years.
Even going down 34-20 to the little known Wesbank RFC, it will long remain an experience the Collegians players will cherish for years to come as there were so many positives for club rugby that came out of the game played in the true spirit of camaraderie. As Collegians Chairman Ian Lozinsky explained: "What an amazing bunch of people and to see what the win meant to them and their community will stay with me forever, it was special."
Certainly it is proof of just how important the Community Cup is for the Club game and as Lozinsky concluded: "No Collegians side likes to lose but having a bad day at the office became more meaningful to us seeing what the victory meant to them and that is what we found so much more important and it's why I'm so grateful that we are part of the competition no matter what the outcome. It's such a great way to make new friends whilst building relationships with clubs all over South Africa, and at the same time also being so good for the game at this level."
The game itself was a great advert for club rugby, which saw Collegians completely dominating up front in the set-pieces and at the breakdown, but their backs ran too many predictable lines and the turning point after being level 12-12 at the break perhaps came with an intercept try that saw the hosts grow in confidence. Collegians' tries came from Brendan Groenewald, Andrew Holland and Brendan Cope who also kicked a penalty and a conversion.
Wesbank replied with tries from Rhonwen Appolis, Nicholas Duhwa, Melvin Lazarus, Evan Liedeman and Anvon Davids with Dashton Wellman slotting three conversions and a penalty.
Up in Pretoria, Jonsson College Rovers led for most of the game against Pretoria Police and with a comfortable 16-8 advantage at the break, looked set for their second victory of the competition. However it was not to be as the Bobbies fought back to take the honours at the death with a narrow 20-19 victory, outscoring the KZN side two tries to one. Although considered a little unlucky for Rovers, it was full credit to the Police side for their second half comeback. Rovers' points came from a try from Matt Phillips converted by Chris Micklewood who also landed four penalties, while, for Police, Heinrich Rademeyer and Hannes Ludik crossed for tries with Dillon Laubscher
It isn't all over for the two KZN clubs, but they do need to stay focused and ensure they win their next two games with Rovers hosting a double header on KP 3 this Saturday. Rovers face Bloemfontein Crusaders and Collegians face Ferros in the early game.
Also in Pretoria, FNB UKZN Impi had a great 66-41 win over hosts the Vikings from TUT in a high-scoring rugby extravaganza, with inside centre Marius Louw leading the try-scoring spree with three of the best. With two games to go, the Impi are one point behind the top of the log front runners Wits, who they still have to face away from home, so for them it is also all to play for.
Varsity College hosted the inaugural Shosholoza Under 20 Tournament at Riverside last Saturday and it's quite clear to see that the hosts and Durban Collegians will be the sides to beat in this age group this season. The five Man of the Match awards who were handed presentations by Daryl Scott from Shosholoza went to Marcell du Plessis, Wickus Badenhorst and Stephan Nel from Varsity College and Teigan Erasmus and Njabulo Ngabane from Collegians.
Harlequins will host the annual Ronnie van Rooyen Club Rugby Tournament on Friday evening and Saturday.
- Jos Robson