They say the true test of a top rugby club is not only the performance of their top teams but the talent of teams lower down the ladder. If one had to assess Villager this season on that basis alone, few would argue that this is a club destined for greatness.
On paper the 3rd’s had a rollercoaster season. It started off well, plateaued mid-season and sped up in spectacular fashion as the season drew to a close. The reality however is that paper will always only tell a part of the story. As so often is the case in sport we rue the cruel bounce of the ball or the thin edge that changes a season. The truth is that had many 50/50 situations gone our way we would be celebrating a league winning season, but that is rugby for you! And that is why we love it so much. You can only really appreciate victory after the taste of defeat, and my how sweet those victories were when they came around.
From a highlights perspective, consistently having one of the best defensive records in the league as well as the fewest points conceded by any team in the club is something that we are all extremely proud of and a testament to the hard work of the coaching staff, in particular the hard work done with defence coach Grant De Sousa.
In terms of on-field performances, there were a few incredibly clinical league performances this season but I think few would argue that the first 40 minutes against Hamiltons on Derby Day will go down in Villager folklore. Facing a Hamiltons 3rd side littered with top players who at the time had swept all before them and topped the Super League A 3rd Team League, few would’ve given us a chance. The score at Half-Time however read: Villager 7 – Hamiltons 5.
Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds the Villager 3rd’s took on the behemoth from Green Point with nothing but passion, pride and an unquenchable thirst for the game. The boys spent the entire first half camping on the Hammies tryline and it took an intercept try from former Villager Gareth Bithell to put the first points on the board. Villager came back with even more fire striking back almost immediately. Again had the bounce of the ball favoured us we could so easily have been 3 or 4 tries up at Half-Time! When the dust settled after the game however and we realised what we achieved, it was a galvanizing moment for us all. We realised what rugby for the right reasons meant, and more importantly that rugby for the right reasons can take on the best and compete.
There are so many congratulations and thank you’s that it would be foolish of me to even begin trying to thank every player individually. Instead I’d like to start by first & foremost thanking the diehards, a group of chaps who have been the backbone of the 3rd’s from the first game to the last. You made our jobs as management an absolute pleasure. There were as many as 10 3rd team players who graduated to form an integral part of the league winning 2nd XV. Well done to each of you, your hard work & commitment has borne fruit. To those that have passed through to give up their precious time to help the guys out, your assistance was invaluable and we hope to see you in the dirty white jersey in the future!
Last but certainly not least to my fellow management, thank you for making this a season to remember. A club committee member remarked to me during a practice session on how much fun the 3rd’s seemed to be having at the practice and I think you as the management were an integral part of creating that atmosphere. To Lelo, Thabs, Niel, Grant, Bruce & Ryan a huge thank you. I could not wish for better colleagues to share a rugby field with.
Rugby for the right reasons is coming to take Super League A with a storm, and it will be an honour for us to kick off Villagers’ return to Super League A in 2015.