Wednesday Club Column
Thanda Zululand Rhinos retained their Fidelity Security Premier Division status when they drew 5-5 against First Division challengers Newcastle Highlanders in a grueling battle at Mick Kelly Park in Empangeni on Saturday. The Highlanders had to beat the Zululand outfit to claim a place in the Premier Division, but sadly for them, the hosts held on, holding off their second half charge, thus returning to do battle in the Premier Division.
Winners of the Castle Murray Cup for the first time in their history back in 2008, the Rhinos led 5-0 at the break with a try by No 8 Shawn Booth. These do-or-die games are never that entertaining and the pressure got to both sides with basic errors throwing away scoring opportunities. It has to be said though that the great defence shown by both the sides turned the contest into an enthralling affair with the visitors from Northern Natal bouncing back in the second half with a try by prop Drikus Fourie.
In the end it turned out to be a game of missed opportunities from both sides with Rhinos living to fight another day. They will now get back to the drawing board and look for a big improvement for the next few seasons and for them comes the good news that the Vryheid Express, Jors Dannhauser, who was named Jonsson College Rovers Player of the Year, has decided to return home to Empangeni and link up once again with his old club. Certainly Dannhauser will be a great acquisition for them as they begin to prepare for the 2015 season.
Up in Winterton, the 2014 Findlay Cup champions Drakensberg Rugby Club, once coached by local farmer, former Sharks and Springbok flyhalf Henry Honiball, and proudly sponsored by John Deere, hosted the SA Rugby Legends celebrating the 12th anniversary of the first game that they played on African soil back in 2002 on the famous club grounds at the Winterton Country Club. Founded way back in the 1920s and originally known as the Upper Tugela Rugby Club, the farming community put together a day to remember with more than 2500 spectators converging on the grounds to experience an absolute wonderfully entertaining display of running rugby, which the Legends narrowly won 31-28.
According to locals, a crowd of 2000 people at local club games there is a common occurrence, indicating the importance of communities supporting the club game. Certainly, for many of the Legends who in their careers played club rugby in the cities, the experience was quite a revelation as the good folk of Winterton certainly showed us city slickers how to host their visitors.
To Joos Solms, his son Josef - affectionately known as the Winterton Express in his playing days at Rovers - and with the Sharks Under 21 side and the Winterton community, you all deserve huge accolades for a memorable weekend of true rugby camaraderie that will forever go down as one of the most special experiences in club rugby. Not only was there a superb spectacle of great running rugby, but also one of Ian McIntosh's always well run and popular clinics for the youngsters.
In the inter Sub-Union Competition playing for the Ebbo Bastard Trophy, the Durban Rugby Sub-Union beat Northern KZN Rugby Sub-Union 60-10 while the Maritzburg Rugby Sub-Union accounted for the Southern KZN Rugby Sub-Union 33-25.