Wednesday Column Club Rugby

Go Nutz College Rovers winners of the Fidelity Security Premier Division and the priceless Moor Cup together with the Murray Cup sponsored by HiTech Ink, Cell C, Castle Lager and Flya this season will now go on to participate in the National Club Championship for the prized Gold Cup. Rovers first appearance in the National Club Champs was back in 1994 the Year Wild Cards in that memorable tournament Bidvest Insurance Crusaders became the first KZNRU club side to take the title.

It was however SA Home Loans Durban Collegians that were the first KZN club side to play in the competition and made it to that inaugural final back in 1975, 42 years ago narrowly going down 26-22 to Stellenbosch University. The tournament was played over the Easter Weekend in those days and was originally known as the Olympic Toyota National Club Rugby Championship in the opening year before Toyota South Africa took over the sponsorship.

Rovers have added six of the local pieces of silverware to their collection but will be hard pressed to bring home the biggest prize of all, the Gold Cup. The two time National Club Champions who first won the competition in 2010 and followed up again in 2012 have been in five finals namely 2006,2008,2010, 2012 and 2013 will once again go out to compete in the hope of reclaiming the title, which is going to be an incredibly hard ask for the KZNRU club champions.

This year the KZNRU champions have been placed in Pool D and like Durban Collegians who found themselves in what was termed The Pool of Death in last years competition, could very well find themselves in this years so called Pool of Death as well.

Last year Collegians had to travel to Harare to play an unknown quantity and were hosted by Old Georgians and lost against a side that they would normally beat on any other given day. This year Rovers will open their campaign in Namibia where they will face the Windhoek based outfit FNB Western Suburbs, also an unknown quantity. Founded in 1979 the club has a huge community based support structure so it’s never an easy task playing against a side with that kind of support, and especially whilst being far away from home.

Their Pool also sees them having to travel to play against the iron men of the IMT Sishen Rugby Club, which was founded in 1953. The club who will be representing Griquas for the fourth consecutive year have since moved a little up the road to the mining town of Kathu and the only good thing about this is the fact that Rovers have been there before so they will know what to expect.

The two remaining sides in their Pool are last years finalists Direct Axis False Bay founded in 1929 who Rovers entertained in Durban a few years back when former Natal Prop Gareth Jones was their then Chairman and Roses United founded in 1911 representing Western Province and Boland respectively.

Fortunately for Rovers False Bay and Roses United will be their home games and certainly the Western Province champion club will be a completely different kettle of fish when they meet this time around while Roses United will also be a tough encounter with that unknown factor about them.

The other Pools are as follows Pool ‘A’: Rustenburg Impala (Defending Champions), Bloemfontein Police (Cheetahs), Welkom RFC (Griffons), Sasol (Pumas) and Vereeniging (Valke); Pool ‘B’: QBR (Blue Bulls), Raiders (Lions), Vaal Reefs (Leopards), Northam Platinum Rhinos (Limpopo Blue Bulls) and Old Georgians (Zimbabwe); Pool C: Old Selbornians (Border) Swallows (Border Wild Card), Progress Uitenhague (EP Kings), Tygerburg (WP Wild Card) and Progress George (SWD Eagles).

Locally up in Newcastle the Durban Rugby Sub-Union side beat the Northern KZN Rugby Union outfit 50-31 in a wonderful running rugby match in the regional Inter Sub-Union Ebbo Bastard Trophy competition.