CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says winning the Currie Cup was obviously great, but it was also a “massive relief”.
After an up-and-down season in which they lost a couple of games that you wouldn’t expect a team like Province to lose, they were under quite a bit of pressure and had to start approaching their last few round-robin games as “must-wins” to secure a home semi-final.
And WP managed to do that. So, looking at the season they’ve had, lifting the decorated domestic Cup must have just been so much sweeter.
But relief was the most overpowering feeling when the final whistle went, and if you’re a part of a union that has, before Saturday, won the Currie Cup 33 times, that relief isn’t too hard to understand.
“The feeling was one of relief, because we knew we could win that game, we knew we could win the competition,” Dobson said. “Obviously it was great to win it, but I think if we hadn’t we would have felt like we under-achieved and let the union down. The Currie Cup is in Western Province’s DNA. It’s a massive relief, and it feels great. The support we got was amazing.
“There’s been so much work that’s been done behind the scenes, and to have got the union into the position that (it) is now, it feels like a small contribution from our part (to win the Currie Cup). My dream is to coach the blue and white stripes. It means the world to me (winning the Currie Cup), I must be honest.”
The WP coach also praised skipper Chris van Zyl for his contribution in terms of leading the team and continuously inspiring belief.
“He never doubted, and when we were under pressure and not going well, he had no doubt we could win the Currie Cup. He’s honestly one of the best, if not the best skipper, I’ve ever worked with,” Dobson said.
The lock, however, didn’t take all the credit, and lauded a number of his teammates for assisting him in leading a team that had quite a bit of young blood injected this season.
“The common goal was always there. I never felt like guys were working against me, they all bought in,” Van Zyl said.
One of those players was loose forward Nizaam Carr - a player Van Zyl says boosted his confidence at the beginning of the season with a message of encouragement.
“At the beginning of the season I got a message from Nizaam Carr saying that he’s happy that I’ve got the captaincy and he’s going to back me, he’s really looking forward and we’re going to make it a special thing,” Van Zyl said.
“Now, that might just be a WhatsApp message, but for me, that meant the world to me. It was a really, really special leadership group.”
Just like Dobson, Van Zyl also mentioned Scotland international Huw Jones when they discussed the team’s leadership group, and added that, for him personally, there was also a feeling of sadness that accompanied their celebrations at the weekend.
“I’m actually a bit sad because as a group we had a good Saturday night and a good Sunday, and then life goes on and everyone disperses. And as a group, we’ll never be together again. I don’t know if I’ll ever play with Huw Jones (joining Glasgow Warriors) again and Rob (du Preez) has left (to the Sharks), so there is that element of sadness that comes with the end of something really special,” Van Zyl said.
The Currie Cup trophy will be on display to the general public at Newlands on Friday, from 2-6.30pm, and supporters will have the chance to have their photo taken with the Cup.