CAPE TOWN – False Bay’s Gold Cup triumph on home soil last weekend to become champion open rugby club in the country was fully deserved.
Having been denied silverware the year before in a final loss away to Rustenburg Impala, this time round the men who did duty for the Constantia outfit were not to be denied as they put bodies on the line in pursuit of an historic outcome.
A baying record home crowd at Phillip Herbstein Field was rewarded with an all-heart effort that delivered the goods in a 30-18 triumph over KwaZulu-Natal champions College Rovers.
Roverst, while never giving in after falling well off the pace 30 minutes in at `17-3 (halftime 20-10) during a high-octane first half, were second best on a hot, windless day.
This was their first final since becoming national club champions for a second time in three years in 2012.
Bragging rights for the year belong to the Bay who are unbeaten at home since 2014.
And just the one defeat this season against Maties of Stellenbosch, who dethroned them as Western Province Rugby Union Super League A champions.
Bay matched the unbeaten run the year before winning arguably the toughest domestic club league in the country, one they won for the first time in 1972 with the late Butch-Watson Smith captaining the side that lifted the Grand Challenge trophy.
The squad is littered with past and current provincial players and international players.
Ashley Wells at tighthead prop has had a great professional career overseas as well as local unions; wing Marcello Sampson has just finished professional rugby; loose forward Jody Reyneke and wing Danie Roux (scored two tries in final) have represented WP7s; Taps Tsomondo (flank – WPRU Club Player of the Year) has played for WP and Bulls as well as Zimbabwe 15s and on the 7s circuit, and Riaan Oniel (inside centre) has played for Zimbabwe 7s and 15s.
But no individual stars as a collective, just blokes who play the game for the love of it. And boy do these mostly amateurs excite friend and foe with their brand of running rugby which sees their supporters streaming into the ground each week.
Their brave, hard-working forwards stand back for no one and their back seven can turn it on.
Captain Graham Knoop, who has over 100 first-team caps, leads from the front and the 30-year-old is never one to back away from the physical stuff.
His efforts in the final earned him the man of the match award and also the title of South African Club Player of the Year.
Bay’s 35-year-old coach Jonno van der Walt was named SA Club Coach of the year for his efforts.
He has guided his charges to 45 wins in the past two seasons, a statistic that shows how much value he’s brought to the club since taking up the role four years ago. He is definitely one of the country’s most promising coaches.