Sometimes decisions in rugby games can be harsh if not really cruel. Its happened on many occasions this season and no doubt in many a season before and will continue to plague teams in the years and seasons to come. Sometimes the laws of this game also create these often moments that end in heartache, but that as they say in the classics, is the very nature of the game.

So it was on Saturday with Direct Axis False Bay scraping home 15-14 against Go Nutz College Rovers after Rovers had led 14-7 at the break in quite the most remarkably entertaining and enthralling games of club rugby seen in ages, which was a real tribute to both clubs.

With the minutes ticking away and the home side 14-12 up it looked like a Rovers victory. Then came the telling blow with Rovers wing Mark Richards crossing for for a try under the poles right on time. Naturally it was understandable that their supporters were a little surprised as they had thought it was game set and match only to see their side being called back for a penalty to False Bay. Sadly for the KZNRU champions The Bay’s fly half Meryck Ward slotted the pressure kick to end his day with a double celebration having had just received the news that he had passed his PhD and seeing his side finishing top of Pool ‘D’ with a home quarter final .

There can be no doubt that this was a great advert for Club Rugby in every sense of the word. It was also a game of true emotions with Rovers skipper Chris Jordaan having played his last home game for his club after 12 years of loyal service to the College Rovers cause, whilst it was also a day to remember for False Bay scrumhalf Ridhaa Damon having come away with a special victory having played in his 150th game for his Constantia based club.

False Bay prop Ashley Wells opened the scoring with a superb try setup by scrumhalf Damon and converted by fullback Adnaan Osman. It didn’t take long for Rovers to return the favor to get on the scoreboard with their first try from flanker Matt Jones and beautifully converted by Mondi Nkosi, deputizing for the injured Gav Scott, from far out. The First half finished with the try of the match scored by the elusive Rovers center Ricky Bamber and converted by Nkosi.

The second half saw False Bay work their way back into the game with flank Mike Botha crossing for their second try midway through the half and from there on it was any ones game with both sides brilliant on defence. Then at the end of it all that cruel twist of fate that saw the visitors return home to the fairest Cape as victors.

All is not lost for Rovers as they will travel to Cape Town to face Tygerburg one of the youngest clubs in the Western Cape. A Community based club founded in 1992 and winners of Pool ‘C’ will certainly be a test of character for the KZN champions. in their quarter final game with the kickoff scheduled for 4pm.

False Bay will find themselves entertaining runners up in Pool ‘C’ Progress George. As Duane Heath the Managing Editor of the SA Rugby Annual and Project Manager of the Gold Cup has expressed “funnier things have happened in this game over the years and these two clubs could quite easily find their way into the final should all go well in the quarters and semi’s.”

In the other quarter final games QBR winners Pool ‘B’ play Sasol Hydra Ark Secunda runners up Pool ‘A’ and Newrak Rustenberg Impala winners Pool ‘A’ play Northam Platinum Rhinos runners up Pool ‘B’.

The post WEDNESDAY COLUMN CLUB RUGBY appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

The End of an Era:

Odwa Ndungane will be closing out an illustrious career with the Cell C Sharks when he retires at the end of this year’s Currie Cup campaign, having served the team with dignity and honour.

Although not from Durban, he felt an affinity with the Cell C Sharks growing up in a region where there was a tie between the coastal teams from KZN and the Eastern Cape.

“I originally moved to Durban from the Bulls because there had been a relationship in the Super 12 days between The Sharks and the teams in the Eastern Cape where I had grown up,” he explains. “Having watched them as a boy, I was naturally a fan. I can still recall when I was at the Bulls during the Currie Cup and I received a call from Kevin Putt who was coaching The Sharks at that time, asking me if I wanted to come to Durban. It was a decision I didn’t have to think twice about making and I jumped at the opportunity.”

As a loyal Sharks man, he has never left the team to play elsewhere, either locally in South Africa or overseas, such is not only the regard with which he holds The Sharks, but also how the team and union view his wonderful, invaluable contribution over the years.

Looking back over his illustrious career, he admits to having enjoyed more highs than lows.

“Over the many years I’ve spent with the Cell C Sharks, there are plenty of highlights. I’ve been fortunate enough that the team enjoyed lots of success, we’ve won trophies and I’ve made good friends and special memories. Winning the Currie Cup in Cape Town, against all odds, was pretty special. There are too many to talk about, although that one probably sticks out.”

A natural progression, having a fine career spanning well over a decade, was being selected to play for South Africa, earning nine caps with the Springboks.

“I would have loved to get more, but nonetheless I’m still grateful for the opportunities I did get,” he says. “Many people have played professional rugby and never got the chance to play for their country, so it’s still a wonderful honour for me to have played for the Springboks.”

With over 100 Super Rugby and over 100 Currie Cup games for the Cell C Sharks, he has joined a select group of players to earn this amazing and very special milestone.

“For me, the biggest thing is sharing a similar record with my twin brother (Akona), it’s something we will both cherish and share memories for years to come. It’s a special achievement to share this record with only a handful of other players who were also capped this many times. I haven’t done it alone, I’ve had a lot of support from family, from team-mates and coaches and being blessed to play at the highest level for so many years.”

He admits that there is no secret to his longevity, but the fact that his enthusiasm has never waned has probably been a key ingredient.

“I don’t think there is any secret, but perhaps most importantly is the fact that I’ve never lost my love of rugby. What has made it so enjoyable is the people around me. I could so easily have lost my passion and interest, but the team-mates, coaches, management at the stadium, the fans, everyone has made it all so enjoyable. A lot of hard work has gone in to ensure I stayed on top of my game. I have been blessed to have played for so long and to not have any serious injuries.”

Trying to pin-point the best player he has ever played with at The Sharks doesn’t prove easy. “That’s a tough one,” he laughs. “If I go back a few years, someone like Brent Russell at his peak was superb on attack. More recently, Ruan Pienaar was one of the best scrumhalves we ever had. Bismarck du Plessis, Keegan Daniel, JP Pietersen, John Smit…. there are just too many to mention.”

As the curtain comes down on his career and having played in cup winning Sharks teams in the past (and obviously chasing one before retiring to enable him to go out on a high), he reflects on where the current Cell C Sharks team is headed in the next few years.

“If you look at the talent we have coming through, young guys like Curwin Bosch, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, the du Preez twins, there is definitely a lot of promise. Throw in the older heads like Keegan Daniel and Michael Claassens to keep the younger guys focussed and on track and the future looks bright.

“If we can keep all those guys at the union for as long as possible, with all that potential, I believe a lot of success will follow. If we can go all the way in the Currie Cup, we can take that momentum through into next year’s Super Rugby. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of sitting in the stands next year and watching some great rugby.

“There are exciting times ahead.”

The post The End of an Era appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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