Frosty Friday for PMB rugby clubs

2008-06-10 00:00

LAST Friday was a frosty one for Pietermaritzburg rugby clubs, as the only winners were PMB Collegians by a comfortable margin over PMB Waratahs in the U20C Division, and Midlands against Crusaders in the U20B Division.

For the rest, seven defeats were tallied in seven starts for Premier Division PMB Varsity and First Division South colleagues Collegians and Waratahs, plus Midlands in the U20A Division.

There is no shortage of good club forwards in the capital city — it is among the backs that depth is lacking. Life has moved on — the Sharks Academy in Durban plus rugby institutions Maties, UCT, Tukkies and University of Johannesburg are now the targets for midlands school-leavers.

University rugby, a 97-year-old institution that has produced Doc Louw, Gary Teichmann and Craig Jamieson among a host of provincial and Test players, cannot be allowed to die at Premier Division level. Neither can Collegians — a club well past its 100 years, with a healthy tally of Springbok and KZN stars among its former players — afford to lose what was once a seamless progression of top-class talent from school to club.

Relative newcomers PMB Waratahs (born of the old Westmore Park) is another club in dire need of more George Bronkhorsts, but the talented ex-St Charles schoolboy is one of the exceptions to a trend that is accelerating year on year.

Certainly in Varsity’s case, club chairman Zak Binikos and sports officer (rugby) Reggie Smith must enlist their former stars and lead a delegation that includes senior university figures in talks with Rob Haswell to save a Premier Division status for Pietermaritzburg that has not been questioned for 100 years.

The municipality has invested large sums of money in partnering club soccer in PMB.

Given its valued part in the fabric of this city for over 100 years, retaining the KZN capital’s Premier Division club rugby status deserves the same attention. For, once that status is lost, there is absolutely no chance it will return.

A significant public/private cash injection is needed to re-inflate the sinking PMB club rugby ship so that a more professional body has the wherewithal to attract, and hold, top class players once again.

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