It’s not often that a drunken chat after a round of golf turns so serious that the participants all wake up the next morning wanting to chat about it some more, writes Newshields.
However a recent gathering after 9 holes at the Bethlehem Golf Club achieved this remarkable feat. The topic? Is it possible for amateur club rugby in South Africa to have a yearly FA-Cup type competition to see who is best?
For those of you who do not follow the round ball game at all, the Football Association Cup in England is the oldest soccer tournament in the world and still one of the most prestigious.
What makes the FA cup special is that every single registered English football club can partake in it. Yes that’s right – every single club competes every year for the FA Cup, from Dowtown Dingville to even lesser clubs like Tottenham Hotspur.
So what will it take for club rugby in South Africa (and perhaps Namibia and Zim) to copy the FA cup?
First of all we need to understand the vast distances clubs will have to travel if for example ‘All Days’ gets drawn to play a Cape Town club. Secondly we need to realise that clubs are already cash strapped as it is. Finally we must understand the difference between totally amateur clubs and clubs like Tukkies where they sometimes field a highly paid professional or two. Or Maties where they often field a highly paid ‘player’ or two.
Looking at the above one might come close to rejecting the idea outright.
But consider the following:
If 2000 clubs play every year the competition will only consist of 10 ‘rounds’ whereby ‘small clubs’ (determined by number of registered players on their books/budgets etc) play round 1 to 3 with medium clubs joining round 4, bigger clubs at round 5 and semi-pro clubs at round 6 to 10.
This means that most small and poorer clubs will only play one or two games a year. Only every second year will they play an away game. Home games can be marketed well seeing as its an ‘outsider’ team visiting town. This will generate some interest in the club game again and provide the host club some income. Only the really outstanding teams on the platteland, along with some very good development teams from the cities will reach 3 games per year, and of those 50% will be at home anyway.
During round 4 when the medium teams join the competition, only about 125 games remain. Once the bigger clubs join, only 62 games remain. By the time the university clubs and other semi-pro clubs join the competition, there will be 32 games remaining.
The next week the last 16 clubs could automatically enter the current ‘national club champs’, but under a much fairer system than the current one.
Care to chew on the idea for a while. Hopefully you will wake up tomorrow and still think it’s a good idea. And I have not discussed the pro’s yet!