2019: LOOKING BACK OVER MY SHOULDER
The siege of Troy ! Rondebosch hooker Troy Fisher surges past Bishops scrumhalf Liam Kloosman,
while his own no. 9, Ishma-eel Safodien, follows developments closely during Bosch’s
21-10 home win on Saturday 17 August 2019. (photo: Madison Beley)
So, the time has come for a couple of personal reminiscences about the 2019 season, as an end-of-season offering.
Let me start off with a negative observation.
It has been obvious to me that there were fewer matches to be covered this season, while, worryingly, several cancellations also came to my attention.
A close friend, himself a deputy principal, believes that rugby is losing learners to hockey in increasing numbers as more and more schools instal astroturf pitches.
One of the direct results is that hockey has largely ceased to be the rather inelegant whack-and-hack pastime in which I used to indulge on Fridays in a remote corner of Lutgensvale under the guise of a half-sport.
The greater skill development, excellent marketing of the sport and extensive coverage of the national league merely reinforce what many believe to be the way forward. Plus, you don’t read scare stories of learners being paralysed or suffering horrible injuries in hockey or getting annihilated by basketball scores by the big Afrikaans schools.
The best one can do is fly the flag and hope for the best. Maybe it’s just another task facing rugby organisers. Let’s leave it at that.
On to happier things.
Match of the Year
An absolute no-brainer, this. On Thursday 4 July 2019 at the Swartland Festival Bellville took the field against local big-hitters Schoonspruit, knowing very little about them.
Within twenty minutes the Lions knew considerably more, finding themselves 0-19 down, which had become 7-24 by the break. A serious chat ensued, during which coach Johan Joubert pointed out the need to deprive the Schoonies backs of possession, if Bellville were to win.
The message struck home and a stirring comeback by the northern suburbs side saw them edge home 31-24, thanks in no small part to flyhalf Jaco Oosthuizen’s two tries, four conversions and a penalty.
Stirring stuff, indeed !
Try of the Season
Another easy choice.
Just after the hour mark and with his side trailing Paarl Gym 7-35 at the latter’s Jan Kriel ground, Bosch full-back Dalvon Blood latched onto a loose ball and cut through the entire Gym side on a perfect right-to-left diagonal run from near the halfway line to score a splendid try that had even the home fans applauding generously.
I don’t think the Gym side were all that impressed, though !
Players of the Year (in no particular order)
Troy Fisher (Rondebosch). As busy a hooker as I have seen for some time, Troy was probably denied a provincial call-up by virtue of his being born in December, meaning he turns 19 at the end of the year.
What is more, his confidence in utilising his solid build often more than compensates for his lack of height.
His nine-try haul attest may suggest that he had the knack of popping up in just the right place to round off attacking Bosch moves, but he was equally adept at creating penetrative sorties from out of nothing.
Josh King (Rondebosch). The youngest of three brothers, the most astonishing thing about this indefatigable no. 8’s season is that he only managed to dot down once. He not only put in crucial work in the loose and in broken play, but was a major factor in line-outs, quite possibly securing as much possession in this phase as the two locks combined.
When I asked the headmaster what he thought of the King Dynasty, he said that he couldn’t imagine what the school would be like without one of the lads for the first time in ten years. I know he meant that in the nicest way.
Rethabile Louw (Wynberg). Being fortunate enough to watch three of the Berg’s last four games in a row, I could swear that this outside centre actually showed an improvement from week to week, even that late in the season. Confidence is the key and a stellar performance away to Rondebosch saw him pulling the strings in a backline which suddenly started to believe in itself as a whole.
Some incisive breaks saw him score at the Tinkie Heyns and Paarl Gym a week later, while one can rest assured that wings Ebenezer Tshimanga and Lezaine Davis will credit him with many of the gaps that saw them cross the whitewash in the course of 2019.
Prospects for 2020
Sam Rudston (Bishops). Height runs in this family and Sam is as blessed in this regard as any other, which meant that his line-out work was where he most often caught the eye. And yet, he was probably the hardest-working lock (or any forward, for that matter) I had the privilege of watching this season.
His foraging in the loose and long-striding carries in open play were rewarded with a commendable bag of ten tries, two more than any of his team-mates, backs included.
Definitely reminiscent of John Wayne because more often than not he looked like nothing would stop him.
Jaco Oosthuizen (Bellville). There is far more to this flyhalf than merely a whole heap of points. He marshals his backline with the same quiet confidence with which he conducts himself both on and off the field.
The way he spurred his side to win the Match of the Season above from a parlous position speaks to his maturity. That he scored all but ten of his side’s 31 points really doesn’t tell the whole story.
His biggest test may be how he breaks in a new Lions back division next year.
Lyle Booyse (Swartland). At scrumhalf, Lyle was one of the stand-out performers in a less-than-awesome Rockies 1st XV this season.
His greatest asset is without a doubt his remarkable speed off the mark, which means that opposition players often find him ghosting past them from tap penalties before they’ve turned around.
Although he should easily surpass his seven tries in 2019 next season, as with Oosthuizen, his growth as a player will depend on how he gets the best out of a backline that will boast some serious firepower, including free-scoring Jay-Cee Kotze and Louis De Jager.
Generally, because, people, the word is “de-FEN-ce”, the accent is on the second syllable. If you’d done two years compulsory national service you would know that, trust me. Just because some commentators are unable to grasp this concept is really no excuse for everyone to perpetuate the mistake.
Particularly, when used in “DE-fence, (fill in school’s nickname), DE-fence !” when one’s team’s tryline is in danger. What a pointless utterance ! What do you think is going through the players’ minds ? Their plans for that evening ? Next Monday’s science test ? Duh !
While happily permitting other websites to use my articles, provided that they are credited to this site, my generosity has sorely been tested this season.
As a reluctant member (now ex-) of one local school’s parents and supporters group, I regularly found myself encouraged by the rugby organiser to read my own articles as if the other site had written them. Surely he could have gone local - he knows full-well where the articles come from.
“Take the wind right out of your sail” - (Aerosmith, Seasons of Wither, Steven Tyler)
Picture this. The final whistle has just sounded and I am one age-group score short of the full set I need for Sarel Burger. The host headmaster, whom I have known for going on half a century, points out a person half my age, with whom I am acquainted and who will be able to provide it.
In a rush to get the score, catch the Man of the Match before the team debriefing takes place, get home, post all the day’s scores and spend some time with my wife, who is off on a business trip the next day, I hurry up to said person and say: “Mr X. some information, please !”
His response ? Words to the effect of “Where are your manners ?” Stunned, I eventually realised he was insisting on my shaking his hand first, which I hurriedly - and resentfully - did.
In the Lions’ Den
The end of the season brings with it the schools’ award evenings.
I was delighted to be invited to the Bellville High School function at the end of August, if for no other reason than that the school boasted both the top points scorer - flyhalf Jaco Oosthuizen (202), who will be available again in 2020 - and the top try scorer - wing Ivano Jonkers (20) - on the 2019 Stoopstats table.
A delightful evening saw every rugby player at the school receive a certificate, while several players walked off with additional awards made at their respective coaches’ discretion. The word “character” was definitely the focus throughout proceedings, the high point being a short but powerful address by former Springbok mentor Arrie Hougaard, now also a Bellville parent.
As fate would have it, a few days earlier, when starting this article, I had already singled out the Lions’ brilliant comeback victory against Schoonspruit as my Match of the Year (see above), because their fightback was a textbook example of character and determination.
My thanks to principal Deon du Plessis, MC Vernon Dickason, organizer Michael Aucamp and school PRO Hannelie van Lill for a memorable night celebrating all that is good about the game.
I look forward to the Schoonspruit evening, scheduled for October because their Mr Rugby, Vos de Jager, is recuperating from hernia surgery.
Without you, it wouldn’t, etc
After much coercion from my wife, I finally joined the Whatsapp generation, which has made my receipt of scores from all over the Boland and SWD remarkably easy.
Of course, that is only because the various coaches - with one or two exceptions - are willing to submit their detailed results in time for me to post them by the Saturday evening. I am quite well aware that, after a morning at the coalface, just about the last thing a sane person wants is to have to relive the morning’s match when he should be relaxing, but they do.
I’m truly grateful for all these gentlemen’s input and will doubtful be equally pleased when I start asking for the 2020 fixtures around October.
One final request. The site could do with a few sponsors, with prime spots available, like the Fixtures and Results pages. R 5000 gets a full year’s exposure, although an extra fee will be charged to fit the advert to the site’s requirements. Please consider supporting the cause; after all, I spend six months a year supporting one of yours !
While you sit back and enjoy the World Cup, Stokkies and I will be waiting in suspense. The 2020 TSRF 2020 invitation hooks have been baited; now we must see who bites.
Ah, the cycle never stops !