IT ALL STARTED A LONG LONG TIME AGO
As we described last week with how it all started with the birth of the KZNRU as we know them today all those years ago.
‘In the opening paragraph of the book Natal 100 The Centenary of the Natal Rugby Union by the late Reg Sweet a former Natal Mercury Sports Editor – It reads ‘ While the winter closed in on Pietermaritzburg and the mists shrouded law-abiding citizens in hazy outline as they shrugged deeper into upturned collars of warm overcoats, it became apparent that a couple of dozen of them were converging on the old Town Office. Their business was sporting, indeed they were about to make the most important recreational decision yet contemplated in the fledgling Colony of Natal.’
The year was 1890 but far more precisely it was Tuesday 24 June a date that will long be remembered as the birth of we now know as the KZNRU and franchise of the Sharks. It is also the year that club rugby as we know it today was born in the province with the Kokstad Rugby club having also been founded that year making them the oldest rugby club in the Natal.
Kokstad founded by Adam Kok was once described as a historical town of Farmers, Cardinals. Springboks and Memorable Rugby Moments has a proud rugby history with the local Kokstad Rugby Club unquestionably the oldest club in the Province.
‘Why Cardinals and Springboks?’ one may ask. Well his Eminence Cardinal Wilfred Napier originally hails from the East Griqualand town as does the legendary Ebbo Bastard who was a member of the iconic Springbok rugby side of 1937 led by Philip Nel, which became known as the best side to have left New Zealand shores after beating the All Blacks two tests to one in that historical and memorable test series.
Looking back in time it’s understandable that one would ask “who did Kokstad play against in those far off days?”
Interestingly enough when one looks at the name of the winning sides on the Junior Murray Cup the name The Valleys is seen engraved on the historical piece of silverware. After much research The Valleys turned out to be combined sides from as far as Umzinto, Ixopo, Port Shepstone and even Scottburgh. It was later discovered that in fact that South Coast Warriors founded in 1947, Scottburgh founded in 1956, Amanzimtoti founded in 1946 and Ixopo founded in 1938 were all offshoots from The Valleys.
Stories of sides arriving in Kokstad by ox wagon and taking two days to get back home after the fines meetings in the grand old days certainly stayed on tour. The teams would sing with gusto and party to all hours of the morning. Certainly, nothing much has changed except perhaps the roadblocks in modern-day society.
Elliott Park is now the home of The Kokstad RFC affectionately known as The Blacks because of their strip worn in the early days and we wish them many more happy and successful years of rugby camaraderie in this their 130th Anniversary.