Whilst we said farewell for the season in last week's club column, it somehow doesn’t seem right in light of the fact that Jonsson College Rovers became the second club in the history of KwaZulu Natal Club Rugby Union to win the SAA National Club Championships after beating the mighty Maties from Stellenbosch University 24-15 in a memorable final at the Danie Craven Stadium - the home of the famous maroon strip last Friday.
Goss and Balfe Crusaders won the competition in 1993 and '94 and were narrowly beaten in the 1995 final in the days when the tournament was still known as the Toyota Easter Club Championships. Now 16 years after ‘Saders’ won club rugby’s most prestigious tournament, Rovers have lifted the trophy, making it third time lucky for the 111 year old club after being in the final in 2006 and 2008.
When one goes back in time and looks at the history of this historic 35 year old competition, this was indeed a huge achievement for Rovers having not lost one game all season. Maties first lifted the silverware in that inaugural year beating a brave Acer Durban Collegians sides led by the current CEO of the Sharks, Brian ‘BJ’ van Zyl, 28-22. It was a great effort by the Durban side, bearing in mind there were 13 Springboks in the Stellenbosch line up that year led by former Bok scrumhalf Divan Serfontein. Maties have since lifted the trophy on 13 occasions but this year it belonged to Rovers - of that there was no question.
The KZN champions opened their 2010 campaign on a winning note beating Oud Skoliera from Bethlehem 52-24, but what made their campaign that more impressive is the way in which they then set about sending three of South Africa’s finest rugby institutions packing with an impressive 26-20 win over UJ, followed by a comprehensive 33-14 victory over the Pukke from Potchefstroom before marching on to their famous win over Maties in the final. And amidst the controversy raging in the media from Absa regarding the transformation debate Rovers can proudly say they were the truly transformed club at the tournament.
For the record, wing Anton Verster was one of the top try-scorers at the tournament, crossing for four touchdowns while Jerome Pretorius who scored the two match winning tries in the final crossed for three tries in the competition with Matt de Beer, Kosie Haarhoff and skipper Chris Jordaan all scoring twice. Neil de Bruin, who was outstanding in the final, scored 13 points in the competition while the toast of the Rovers side, Wesley Dunlop, returned home with a 38 point haul with a try, six penalties, six conversions and a drop goal.
This time it is definitely au revoir till next season.