“There has to be a loser, and the important thing in this setup is to be able to play good clean rugby with mates and enjoy it…”
The man who smsed me these words is a man that falls into the wise campaigner category. He has seen it all, played it all, experienced it all and more than qualified to make those profound statements that cut straight to the truth and that are void of clichés.
The Finals Round last night was the finale to an exceptionally long season of rugby and we can be proud to say that the spirit and the vibe on the Green Mile last night is testament to the notion that the values that underpin fair contest and sportsmanship are a running strong in our Internal League rugby.
The Green Mile was a hive of rugby and social activity last night with the on field antics a very appreciable spectacle for the off field masses. On occasion the poor guy in the stand had to do is utmost to concentrate on the game as opposed to on a pom-pom armed Wadda angel but either way he got his monies worth for the ticket price.
The revamped format for 2007 saw all 16 teams playing 9 games amassing a record 72 fixtures through the season. This is more rugby than has ever been hosted on the Green Mile and a very subjective opinion maintains that it was probably the best level of rugby ever.
Last night was no different and although many sides were feeling the affects of a long season or weren’t playing in the final that they would have aimed to play in they still came out with equal gusto as if it was the first game of the season.
The Wooden Spoon Final saw the brave but now somewhat dejected Kopano side turn out for one last valiant effort to get that elusive W on the scorecard. Through sheer divine intervention the Spanners came to the party with a run on side and allowed Kopano the opportunity and even scored two tries themselves. Kopano winning 38-12.
The Can Final turned out to be a test match spectacle as Smuts took on Ikhaya in a monumental game. Ikhaya certainly boast the biggest traveling off field entourage and their yelling supporters urged them to a last gasp buzzer try in the corner to win 8-7. Smuts led 7-3 for much of the game with captain Mike Vice having a storming game but unfortunately sans the support necessary to convert line-breaks into tries.
The Funnel Final is the most sort after plaque to add to the trophy cabinet and Clarendon took on College for the honours. Unfortunately the game soured with the ref handing out cards like the RWC citing commission was handing out week bans and they were deserved too. College won 12-5 but the College red card lock gets special mention for being the only prick on the Mile last night.
The Bowl Final has replaced the traditional minnow’s league title and has a reputation as being as hard fought and fiercely contested as any higher contest battle. The Shebeen Boys have been losing semi-finalists in the bottom 8 since we stopped playing with a leather ball and this year they reproduced their off field unity between the white lines. In a performance dictated by strong forward play and backline accuracy, Shebeen held out the Eastern Cape 2 Rios 19-10 in a typical final. An excellent result on all accounts.
The Mug Final is the equivalent to the top 8 spoon and the Turtles took on the Barbarians in an energetic game. Both sides were oh-so-close to higher honours but lost narrowly in the play offs to end up playing this game. It was an even contest that Barbarians came from behind to win 12-7.
The Plate Final was between Wildboys and Marqaurd and was a try thriller. Both sides play an offensive ball style of play and the result was a far cry from the blanket rugby (at any stage all 30 players would fit under a duvet) that internal league sometimes slips into. Wildboys were like Nigerian immigrants in Long street and ran everything with perennial attacking force Warren Oupa Kelly carving up defenders at will. The Wildboys won convincingly 29-5.
The 3rd/4th playoff saw Ubumbo and the Panthers return to meet each other after both coming so close in the hard lost semi finals only just a week before. The physicality of last weeks semis would crumble lesser men but both sides returned gracious losers to fight it out for 3rd without shying away from the same body on the line effort from the previous games. It was a tight a fair that the ref managed to cock up by blowing the first half 10 minutes too early but Ubumbo came back from 0-5 at the half to win 12-10.
The Cup Final was a highly anticipated affair. Nadoes have a play off record that would make any Australian national team (bar the socceroos) nod and whistle in respect but the Cobras were definitely the form side so far this season. As with the 3rd/4th play off both sides tested in emotionally and physically draining semi-finals the week before and matching those performances would be tough.
In the opening 5 minutes Nadoes combined unbelievable luck, crazy skill and great vision to score two freak tries. Standing under your uprights 14-0 down only 5 minutes into a contest cannot be the warmest place in the world. What was going through the heads of the young side will remain a mystery but you can be certain you are glad it wasn’t you.
Cobras showed why they were playing in the final and came back strongly. They used the wind well to get good field placing but weren’t able to convert territory into scoreboard numbers. They recovered admirably to right the ship but were struggling to get momentum in the sails.
The 2nd half was upon us like a prurient Carinus girl and both sides dead locked each other. The Nadoes defense closed up shop like the English batting side when they are 400 runs behind on the 5th day of a test match and the Cobras were unable to score. A rare incursion into the Cobras half saw the Nadoes pick up a shot at goal that was successfully landed to give them a 17 point lead and one hand on the trophy.
The game was then marred by some senseless late charges from the Nadoes loose 3 that earned the one a yellow and then the ref showed consistency in binning the Cobras flank for a similar, albeit weaker, challenge.
The shut out effect of the Nadoes defense frustrated the Cobras attack. They made some excellent line breaks and half gaps but never from a field position they could convert into points and the Nadoes cover would then just shut it down. The Cobras were running out of time and started attacking with reckless abandon. Passes didn’t go to hand and they paid the price of all risk rugby as the Nadoes scored twice at the death to take it 27-0.
The night was over in a flash and the party began in earnest. It was the perfect end to a long season. Regardless of whether your side won or lost that is all forgotten once you’re huddled around a waist high pile of SAB products, singing raucous songs you wouldn’t repeat in front of your mom and holding the back of the jersey of the guy who may turn out to be the god-parent of your son.
Pain is weakness leaving the body, chicks dig scars, glory lasts as long as memories do, and good times can only be had in the present but best friends last forever…
The Green Mile is closed for renovations, so I’ll see you on the sandy