The Babrow XV, UCT’s Under-20 B1 side, scored a narrow 24-23 win over Paarl Rugby Club last weekend to claim the honours in their Under-20 league.
With coaches Kirsten Marshall and Justin Wiggill and manager Stuart Dugmore working hard behind the scenes, the Ikeys youngsters topped the log, before going on to win their semifinal and final to claim the 2009 league title.
However, it was not all plain-sailing for the Babrow XV, as they did not play a single league match in the second half of the season and they also had to put up with a few call-ups to the U20 A1s.
In fact, with all their opposition pulling out of games – on a weekly basis – the Babrow XV’s first fixture in the second half of the season came in the semifinals against UCT’s very own Junior Tigers.
“I’m really chuffed for the guys,” coach Kirsten Marshall told uctrfc.co.za. “The final was a bit of a heart-stopping affair, as we went up 19-0 after just 15 minutes and very nearly managed to lose it.
“The guys were disappointed not to have played any league matches, and that nearly cost us in the end I think, but our team spirit shone through and that’s what won it for us in the end.”
Marshall added: “The Under-20 A1s are also in with a shout to win their league, the Tigers finished third in our league and the Cubs sixth – UCT rugby is in good health across the board if you ask me.”
According to Marshall, some 100 Under-20 players reported for pre-season duty at the start of 2009 and although only 80 places were available at the start of the season they were able to utilise those ‘remaining’ 20 players when it came to the end-of-season crunch.
“Gunner [Andrew Hughes – U20 A1 coach] and I have a great working relationship, so when he’s needed guys – in particular lately with first team call-ups – I’ve been able to help him out,” said Marshall.
“At the same time we were able to get a few guys back for the play-offs, so it meant we are able to maintain some consistency – despite not having had any competitive fixtures before the semifinals and final.”
Marshall and his management team will be back in 2010 – “hunting for more trophies” – but before then they will be making sure all rugby-playing final-year scholars in the region make the Green Mile their homes next year.
“A lot of our Under-20s will be too old next year, so we need to plug a few holes,” he revealed.
“There is obviously a huge catchment area here with the likes of Bishops, Rondebosch, Sacs and Wynberg ‘just down the road’, but we need to convince them that UCT is the best (club) – rugby-wise and socially – as they will have a great time playing and growing as people here at the club.”
The Babrow XV:
1) Alex Skeate
2) Scott Pitcher
3) Rob Nichol (Capt)
4) Adam Hamilton
5) Bruce Knox
6) Matthew Wynne
7) Dean Rynhoud
8) Nick van Liede
9) Shamus King
10) Greg Hoffman
11) Wesley Bell
12) Graham Gallow
13) Devon Dollery
14) Rudi Wessels
15) Richard Stewart
16) Severin Tenim
17) Lawrence Christie (A1’s)
18) Mini Bhengu
19) Mathew Healy
20) Alex Diana
21) Jeff Astor
22) Graham Begham