Wednesday Club Column
Jonsson College Rovers did the KZN Rugby Union proud when they won the National Club Championships in Rustenburg last Friday, bringing down the final curtain to the 2012 club rugby season in fine style for the KZN champion KZN club who have now joined Telnet Crusaders with two National titles to their name after first winning the tournament in Stellenbosch in 2010.
A monstrous 60 metre penalty in the dying moments of the final by Backline Player of the Tournament Kobus de Kock secured their 23-10 victory against Blue Bulls champion club Pretoria Police in a gruelling, hard-fought game that saw the Rovers outstanding loose trio of Kosie Haarhoff, Conrad Stoltz and Forward Player of the Tournament Lubabalo Mtembu disrupting the Bobbies' driving mauls to great effect and frustrating the heavier opposition pack in the process, resulting in the Police side conceding countless penalties.
All in all it was a hugely successful tournament for Rovers who had earlier in the week opened their campaign against BB Truck Noordelikes, beating the side from Limpopo Province 61-0 before moving into the quarter-finals to face the much vaunted Despatch side from the Kings who they put away 41-30 in their first real test of character, coming back from a 30-28 deficit to earn their place in the semi-finals against Border champions Broubert Old Selbornians. The Border side had no answer for the slick Rovers outfit eventually going down with the biggest score of the week 72-10 and paving the way for the KZN side to pick up their second championship title in three years, which they ended up doing in fine style.
Rovers' remarkable run of 79 wins in 83 outings equals the great run Durban Collegians had in the 70ís and their coaching and management structures with former Bok, Blue Bulls and Sharks Robert du Preez, together with his assistant coaches, Robin Swanepoel, one of the most capped Border Currie Cup props and Jonno Brayley, skipper Chris Mickelwood, physio Callie Hugo and manager Kirwin Jean-Louis, all deserve huge accolades along with the rest of the squad for a truly professional manner in which they ran the club that ultimately resulted in the side seeing their way through to win their second national title.
It was a final that saw the best of the hugely-talented Rovers wing Jors Dannhauser who was superb in the final and has to be by far the best game the youngster has played - his off-load to De Kock for the opening try was an absolute gem. He followed up with some magic in the second half as well and was also instrumental in seeing Andrew Borgen going in for Rovers' second touchdown whilst also adding two conversions and two penalties. De Kock and Dannhauser were the two top point-scorers in the tournament and one can only hope these two talents can be kept in KZN and indeed in the game. As Rovers' Chairman Kevin Carolan explained: "We were always expecting to lose players after a tournament like this and we could end up saying good bye to six of our loyal subjects who all performed so well up here at the tournament and are certainly happy to see Sangoni Mxoli being offered a worthwhile contract with Impala."
Ending on a good note, SARUís Media Release on the introduction of the Community Cup was greeted with great enthusiasm. Certainly it does herald a new era for the club game in South Africa with 20 open clubs participating in a World Cup style tournament will be a major boost for club rugby in the country. And the good news for Rovers for having won the 2012 National Club Rugby tournament, they have been rewarded with the opportunity of playing the opening game in the inaugural tournament, which is scheduled for 16 February. The winners of the Community Cup will play the winners of the Varsity Cup and here SARU have explained that the play-off component of the newly-formed tournament will hopefully bring back that wonderful Easter Club Rugby feel of yesteryear with the finals scheduled for 1 April 2013, Easter Monday.
Till next season itís au revoir and not goodbye.
- Jos Robson