Although this year has been a very hard year for sport globally, we’re happy to say that as we look back, we again see that amongst several challenges WP Club Rugby again rose to the occasion.
The adjustments made and lessons learned in 2020 were carried over into 2021 and this saw us successfully engage our members in a manner that allowed us to continue adding value to the members and fans of Western Province club rugby.
The success and growth of our Women’s rugby was notable as our Women’s Rugby department managed to continue the training of our senior side at the high-performance center in Bellville early in the year. The initial squad of close on sixty women who all come from various clubs in Western Province was eventually trimmed and went on to go unbeaten to the finals of the interprovincial championships.
Our mission to grow Women’s Rugby reached further highs this year as we saw our High-Performance coaching for Women’s Rugby program continue throughout the year. Moving on from 2020 which saw several of our Women coaches embark on the World Rugby Level one coaching course, these same ladies ended this year by completing the World Rugby level two coaching course in December this year. This group will now undergo various practical applications as they are appointed to various clubs and regions and will also embark on the WP Rugby 2.5 course, which is designed to bridge the gap between the World Rugby level two and level three courses.
This year also saw more exposure for Women’s Rugby than ever before. The ladies were featured on TV weekly with match training and interviews as well as live broadcasts of all their matches. This added to the momentum of growth for women’s rugby at our clubs as we saw several of our clubs grow their women’s structures. Some of these clubs and regions then went on to debut in the Score WP Club Rugby sevens.
With plenty of work from our WP Women’s Rugby Collective, we saw just over one hundred and thirty ladies participating in the Heritage day festival at Newlands. This event came about after the YTC festival at City Park and saw a campaign driven by the Women’s Rugby collective to celebrate world literacy day by handing books out to various schools in the province supported by United Way and Pay it Forward.
Although the year saw no official league in play, many of our clubs still managed to play quite a bit of rugby as we saw several approved friendlies roll out having followed the various return to play protocols as per SA Rugby regulations. This then continued during the year including a number of clubs managing to keep their members and communities engaged with weekly training sessions.
Having taken the technology lessons from last year and applied them again this year it was evident our clubs have embraced the concept of online communication. This allowed us to host several online courses and planning sessions for our members. These included a continuation of the Media, Marketing, and Sponsorship workshops and several club administration courses for club executive members.
The uptake of online activity saw many of our members engage in international courses as well as exclusive opportunities with various rugby experts on invite from SA Rugby. Additionally, our WP Rugby education department completed a number of World Rugby courses ranging from World Rugby level one and two, fifteens and sevens, strength and conditioning, and various referees courses.
Our junior rugby referees were another highlight as we saw close on fifty boys and girls complete their junior rugby referees and Boksmart programs at a special mid-week getaway amongst a number of other courses for juniors during the year.
There is no doubt the highlight of the year was the annual Score WP Club Rugby Sevens. Amongst the several challenges faced, our club rugby department and our clubs managed to group together with our sponsors and media partners and deliver yet another world-class event.
The Score WP Club Rugby Sevens rolled out with just under forty teams across three venues and saw the debut of our Women’s Rugby sevens teams. Again, we saw Score Energy Drinks and CTC Sports come to the table as each club was presented with their own unique individually designed jersey.
This year also saw another first for the Score WP Club Rugby Sevens as we delivered a multicast live TV broadcast from Newlands on the day with the matches broadcast live on Cape Rugby TV on Cape Town TV, DStv ch263, and live to the Cape Rugby TV YouTube channel and Facebook page. This five-hour broadcast allowed for our club rugby fans to see their favourite teams in action in the absence of spectatorship.
Additional highlights this year saw CPUT winning the FNB Varsity Shield and successful performances from Stellenbosch, UCT, and UWC in the FNB Varsity Cup. Our DHL WP Rugby u20 side had a remarkable season as they went unbeaten into the finals of the SA Rugby championships. Although it was not to be we delivered a number of junior boys and girls players into the Western Cape side for the annual SRSA summer games which was unfortunately canceled by SRSA.
The sporting landscape has certainly changed in the past two years but by all accounts, we have managed to adjust and reinvent to keep us on top of the game and stay connected with our members. We now look forward to next year as we draw strength from the successes we’ve had in 2021.