I remember a time when Club rugby was the only rugby I knew, before a World Cup were held in South Africa, before Super Rugby, the rugby I watched live was not on the telly, it was next to the playing field. Supporting my dad and his team take on other local rivals, a community divided between who will win, Worcester Villagers or Young Hamiltons?

It was a time where local heroes weren’t Naas Botha, Danie Gerber or even Errol Tobias, no. Those were names we as kids heard about on the radio, but it was the guys who played live in front of us that gave us the passion for rugby that today makes us watch the Stormers play the Blue Bulls in our thousands across the country. Local heroes like Josie Ontong, Maurice Hankey, Steven Nkoko and Christie Noble to name a few, gave me and other youngsters in our community our first taste of the game, where we saw the side step, celebrating every point scored and how glorious victory can be for your team! yes it was Club rugby that gave most of us the passion for rugby.

What happened though? why have club stadiums across the country run empty? why don’t people support anymore? Well, there’s enough rugby on the TV, so why go support some local guys? When my son want to see Bryan Habana score, or a SBW offload gets them more excited than seeing the local team play. Look, I will be the first to admit that for a long time I was not a fan of going to watch club rugby, because “the fans gets to abusive”;”they talk to vulgar”;’they even get violent’, but it was until recently I had to go check out the team I supported since 5 years old play and realised, wow! These guys work hard to put in their best on the field to excite the few hundred watching them (if it is that many).

Those days have gone, I went to games recently and its mostly girlfriends and family of the guys on the field, I don’t remember this, where is the rest of the community? Where is the rest of the young boys who come to the field to see their heroes play? I don’t mind young boys and girls having heroes on TV, but the local ones, the ones they can go talk to, can see day to day are the ones who’ll have more impact.

BUT, that was a long intro into what I actually want to say: THANK YOU SARU FOR THE CELL C COMMUNITY CUP!!!

To a lot of BIG clubs, this might be just another tournament, but to a club like Worcester Villagers it has breathed new life into a dying animal.

Players are excited to get to the practise field, pride put back into badge and best of all, I can see the community coming out to watch a team they only supported by watching out for the result in the local newspaper. Young boys to see local guys put in their best effort to make a community proud, playing the game we all love! All because of Community Cup, where players know they have a new platform to showcase their abilities, where smaller clubs can learn from the big guys, not just how things are done on the field but also off the field!

This can only be a good thing for SA rugby, strong school system, strong varsity system and now we have a platform where we can create a strong club system. Pools of talent in this country!!

I can only refer to Worcester Villagers (I call them a small club, not because they have not been around for a long time, but because have not adapted to the professional era as yet). Here’s a club who is turning 130 years old this year. One of the oldest clubs in the Boland region and surely in the top 10 of eldest club in the country, but even with their age, they don’t hold the prestige of a College Rovers, a SK Walmers, a Hamiltons or Pretoria Police. why? those clubs understood the value of becoming professional, the Community Cup is giving a club like Worcester Villagers the chance to rub shoulders with clubs like these and learn from them. Without this platform it would have taken a whole lot longer!! Everyone in South Africa wants to see competitive rugby games, not a lot of one sided affairs, and I predict in 3 years from now, there will be a more competitive competition than what the Club Champs had to offer on its own.

Advertisements