Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Fidelity Security South African National Golden Oldies Rugby Festival held on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast at the weekend epitomised the brotherhood shared by current and former players.
Thirty-two teams and over 600 stalwarts from across the country enjoyed rugby’s renowned camaraderie over two days of friendly fixtures at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds in Uvongo.
Eras come and go, while the sport evolves with every passing season, but the thrill of the game – the character and fellowship it forges – remain the same through generations.
It’s this brotherhood that was celebrated in the 35th edition of the South African National Golden Oldies Rugby Association’s festival, which returned to the region for the first time in 15 years.
There were no official winners; in fact, no scores were kept. That’s not what this festival is about. Players over the age of 35 up to the seventies, turned back the clock in casual contests, reliving rugby’s core joys.
For locals, it was particularly special to see generations of past stars in action for hosts, the Riversmead South Coast Warriors Sugar Daddies. The two home teams – the Sugar Daddies Originals and Pretenders – were indeed crowd favourites.
Another crowd favourite was Springbok, Transvaal and Natal legend, Wahl Bartmann, CEO of title sponsor, Fidelity Security.
At a festive closing ceremony on Saturday night, Toti Rugby Club Old Boys won the Most Attractive Rugby award, Durbell Old Boys scooped the Spirit award and Pretoria Harlequins Madalas bagged the Best Dressed Team award.
“It was an exceptional festival,” Southern KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Sub-Union president, Dougie Haralambous, festival organiser and member of the Sugar Daddies Originals, told eHowzit.
“We’ve had unbelievable feedback, all saying it was one of the best festivals ever. It was a blast to be back on the field – all the players loved it, and the festival was played in the true spirit of Golden Oldies rugby – fun, friendship and fraternity.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything better. The festival was very well supported and it boosted the local economy as well. Hotels, B&Bs and the Wimpy on the beachfront were particularly happy with the influx of teams.”
To further highlight rugby brotherhood, the festival raised R25 970 for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, who provides physical, psychological and emotional assistance to players who’ve sustained life-altering head, neck and spine injuries.
TWR Golden Oldies Rugby Club were the winners of the grand lucky draw prize – a signed Springbok jersey, two tickets to a Springbok Test match and a photo with the Springbok team. Auction items included a mystery hamper sponsored by Southcoast Mall and a firefighter helmet.
“We’re proud and honoured to support the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund. It’s a truly great cause and the teams really opened their hearts and wallets,” said Haralambous.
Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund General Manager, Gail Baerecke, thanked the organisers and players for the considerable amount raised.
“We were honoured to have been chosen as the charity of choice for the 2018 Golden Oldies Rugby Festival.
“While many of the players who were involved in the event are in their ‘latter’ years of playing the game, they still chose to recognise the fallen heroes of the game.
“We believe that this is an indication of the positive values that the sport breeds and what ultimately enables us at the Players’ Fund to be just a phone call away from our 108 recipients.
“The role of Rugby’s Caring Hands is one which we share with the entire rugby community and for this, we are very grateful,” said Baerecke.
Additional funds were also raised, which will be ploughed back into the various structures of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Sub-Union.
Goodwood Legends will host the 2019 festival.
Fidelity Security South African National Golden Oldies Rugby Festival 2018:
South Coast Warriors Sugar Daddies Originals, South Coast Warriors Sugar Daddies Pretenders, Alberton Legends, Alberton Madalas, Bloemfontein Legends, Bloemfontein Legends Oldies, Boksburg Thunder Boys, Diggers DOBS, Durbell Old Boys 1 and 2, False Bay Crocs, Fidelity Security Services, Fury Golden Griffons, Goodwood Legends, Grizzlies Old Bears, Hillbillies Golden Oldies Rugby Club, Johannesburg Police Rugby Club, Laeveld Leeulopers, Losberg Golden Oaks, Middelburg Ougatte, Mongrels, Musketeers, Naka Goue Oues, Naka Old Boys, Parks Golden Oldies, Pretoria Harlequins Madalas, Richards Bay Rugga Rhinos, Stade Jo’burg, Tendellas Golden Oldies, Toti Rugby Club Old Boys, TWR Western Lions.
Main Sponsors: Fidelity Security, SAB, Distell, Douglas Mitchell Sports Club, Ugu South Coast Tourism.
Supporting sponsors and advertisers: Georgia Spur, Tiago’s Flamed Grill, Just Property Margate, Deon Kapp Construction, The View Restaurant, Margate Aerials, Cynthia’s Butchery, Poolfection, Ojala Embroidery, Lighting Printers, Screens & Signs, Buccaneer’s Restaurant and Beach Bar, The Sharks Academy SKZN, St Michael’s Sands Hotel and Restaurant, McGarr & Co Attorneys, C-Bali Restaurant.