CAPE TOWN – Busy Bees RFC, the Mother City’s first black rugby club, have won promotion to Western Province club rugby’s Super League B (SLB) for the first time in their 95-year history.
The Langa-based side achieved the superb feat after finishing runners-up to unbeaten Macassar of Somerset West in SLC.
The two sides squared off for title rights at Newlands on Saturday, with Macassar emerging 35-28 victors.
They’ll be seeing each other next year as they go about trying to retain their status in what WP general manager of amateur club rugby, Danny Jones, calls the “toughest league in the world”.
“It’s not for the faint-hearted; you have 14 teams vying for the highest league in the province,” said Jones. “So well done to the two teams promoted.”
That aside, club rugby in the communities is alive and well, and that’s good for WP rugby.
Jones said: “We have many clubs that come from previously disadvantaged communities who embrace the true meaning of amateur rugby, who play the game with passion and commitment, and always with a smile.
“And then the loyal supporters who turn up in numbers to encourage and motivate their men to give their best each time they take to the field.”
Established in District Six in 1923 by migrant workers from the Eastern Cape, Busy Bees was forced to move to Langa in 1937 due to the then-government laws, but not before the club was used as a meeting place by the South African National Native Congress to plan and organise protest action that fooled the police into believing the gatherings were rugby-related.
At their new home, club officials took it upon themselves to introduce boys and girls to the sport to keep their minds occupied and out of mischief.
Many accolades would follow.
Temba Mdlalo was a young guy who wore the No 8 jersey and went on to be presented with his national team blazer.
Later on, wing Jongi Nokwe wore the green-and-gold in four Springbok Test appearances.
The women weren’t to be outdone, as first Banele Makhezela and then Vuyo Maqola and Sinazo Mcatshulwa were awarded Bok colours.
This season, Hilton Pentinger coached a Busy Bees side with an average age of 28, that had Gqibithole Bekithemba captaining at hooker.
His charges won 12 out of 14 games, both losses recorded early on in the season away to Macassar and Strand.
Bekithemba and fellow forwards Banele Gosani (prop) and Mzoyisa Dyantyi (No 8) were a few of the stand-out players
“We play the game hard but fair,” said Alfred Kewana, the director of rugby at Busy Bees.
“And we’re always trying to emulate the way the All Blacks play.
“We also like to set goals. Come our 100th anniversary in 2023, we plan to be in Super League A.”