Over a hundred years of fierce and friendly rivalry later, Villager FC and Hamiltons RFC continue to keep traditions alive when they meet each other on the field in the 139th Derby Day on Saturday 28 June at Brookside. Kick off 4pm.
As the oldest club fixture in South Africa, Derby Day continues to capture the imaginations of both young and old for it is this clash that has spurned many a great tale from the glorious amateur days when Derby Day games received the honour of being played at Newlands. None more so than the Jubilee fixture in 1925 which was held in honour of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, who was present to watch Hamiltons win the entertaining encounter. Fast forward to the centenary game in 1975 where Villager soundly beat Hamiltons 34 – 0, avenging the Jubilee loss and unknowingly at the time, setting the tone for the next 39 years which the Dirty Whites comprehensively dominated.
For although Villager have won over 75% of the Derby encounters since 1976, it was the advent of professionalism in the club game that has somewhat reversed the fortunes of both clubs. It was ironically Villager FC who was one of the first to start paying their players, while they enjoyed huge success in the early part of this phase, the exorbitant costs of keeping the side afloat eventually proved to be its downfall. Hamiltons in comparison did not enjoy the type of backing Villager received in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as evident by their drop to the B league in the early 2000’s, however the injection of their generous sponsor and focussed recruiting has soundly placed Hammies as one of the top clubs in the country for the last few years having won Club Champs in 2009 as well as reaching the semi-final stage of the Community Cup this year.
The rise and rise of Hamiltons since 2005 has coincidently coincided with the return to full amateurism at Brookside, the decision to not pay players in 2013 certainly proved to be more difficult than anyone could have imagined. However from the ashes of last year, Villager has slowly returned to resemble something of their former selves in the 2014 WP SLB. Be that as it may however, Hammies are unbeaten in the SLA this year, a far tougher environment than the one Villager play in at present.
As is often the case in traditional rivalries anything can happen on the day, however it has been Hammies who have comprehensively dominated proceedings since 2005. They have won the last eight Derby encounters with their most notable win being last year’s 97 – 0 thumping of Villager at Green Point, marking one of the lowest points in Villager history. As a result Saturday is certainly building up to be a clash not many expect to be too difficult for the Green Point based side.
Captain Ashley Clarke, who was in the Hamiltons set up this year before deciding to play for Villager, believes that Saturday won’t be an easy one for his charges. “Hammies are a great side. They have a very good set up there and have a good coach in Moolies.” He says. “It is a privilege playing against the best SLA team of the last few years so it is important for us to see if we can at least compete against them.”
The Villager side to play Hammies has a large youth contingent in it with at least half the team comprised of players under the age of 25. For many of them this weekend will be their first taste of playing Hamiltons in a Derby Day, an occasion that can quickly become too big to handle without the necessary experience. However with seniors such as Ashley Clarke, Richard Williams and Stuart Pattison around them, the side should hopefully remain focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by the large crowd expected to descend on Brookside.
The forward battle on Saturday is expected to be the defining contest of the game, with the vaunted Hamilton pack leading their opponents in both experience and size. However the Villager forwards have held their own against similar opposition, albeit in the lower league. The front row combination of Adrian Cleophas, Scott Pitcher and Ryan Germishuys has their work cut out for them against the grunt of Christo McNish, JG Gilliomee and Attie Winter, a daunting prospect no doubt, but their ability with ball in hand may give them a slight advantage should the game become looser.
The second row of Ryan Bezuidenhout and Richard ‘Oupa’ Williams will have to bear the brunt of the donkey work for this pack to succeed in going forwards, while the loose forward combination of Brodie Blows, Jannie Bester and Ashley Clarke will need to step up their work rate and physicality at the breakdown in order to secure their ball. The contest between Ash Clarke and the Hamiltons eighth man wrecking ball, Jody Burch, may become one of the best battles Derby Day has ever seen. Both have played professional rugby as a result of their uncompromising style of play with ball in hand and at the breakdown.
Although the backline impressed last weekend against Goodwood, the Hammies game will be a different prospect than the opposition they have faced so far in the B League. Where the B League backs combine fleet footedness with extreme pace, so the A League brings with it physicality and size. This difference will need to be adapted to very quickly if the Villager wingers, Jethro Valentine and Christo Terbalnche are to see any ball with which to utilise their full attacking potential.
The halfback dual between Dylan Tidbury and Monty Dumond against Daniel Anderson and Daniel Clarke is shaping up to be one for the books as Dumond has Super Rugby experience while Clarke has played professionally in France. Both flyhalves kick exceptionally well out of hand and have over 80% kicking records. Another interesting contest will be between the talented young fullbacks, James Allderman and Pierre Cronje. James has excelled at 15 for the Dirty Whites this year, whilst Pierre is one of the most devastating runners of the ball in club rugby.
Centres David Radloff and Stuart Pattison will also have their hands full against Jandre Du Plessis and Villager old boy, Calvin Kotze. The Villager combo of Pattison and Radloff have the experience over their Hammies duo, but will that be enough to stop the hard running lines of Kotze and the skilful Du Plessis creating space for their quick wingers?
The bench sees Villager opting for a larger forward contingent owing to the fact that the game is expected to be a forward dominated affair. The forward replacements being Ziyaad Fredericks, Ayden Coetzee, Andrew Wilkins and LT Stamper, whilst the backline subs consist of Jonny Sweetnam, Tim Marsh and Blane Hansen. Wilkins in particular will have a big role to play when he comes off the bench, adding experience and physicality to the Villager side. Whilst Hammies have players such as WP u21 Prop Justin Ackerman and Morgan Newman on their bench which further adds to the difficulty of the match.
The Dirty Whites are under no illusions that this game will be about physicality on defence and taking their opportunities when they arrive. Playing Hamiltons is a massive chance to prove to the doubters that Villager can compete in the SLA should they gain promotion at the end of the season, however they will need to take into consideration that Hammies are a battle hardened side that are determined to win all encounters especially Derby Day.
Head Coach Gunner Hughes, unfortunately absent this weekend due to work commitments, has left the team in the capable hands of Riaan Crous as acting Head Coach. Crous believes this weekend will be a great litmus test for his side. “We are extremely lucky to be able to test ourselves against Hammies this weekend.” He says. “We are hoping to play as well as we can and give a good account of ourselves, as it is Derby Day anything can happen but we will need to play for the full 80 minutes in order to achieve a huge upset.”
Villager FC looks forward to hosting Hamiltons RFC and invites all past and present members as well as families and friends of our current players to Brookside on Saturday afternoon. Fixtures begin from 12:30pm with the Old Crocks culminating with the 1st XV game at 4pm.
There will be something for everyone on Saturday including a Kiddies Corner that frees up the parents to frequent one of the THREE bars around Brookside including the famous Castle Corner. A DJ will also be playing throughout the afternoon creating a festive atmosphere.
Features on the day include:
* Three fully stoked bars including the Castle Corner
*Great food from Brooksider Grill
*Great derby rugby
*Red Bull Promotion
There will be a R10 per person entrance fee as well as R10 per car
Match day commentary can be found at http://www.mycomlink.co.za/fixture_commentary.php?i=2365 courtesy of MyCommunity.
1st XV vs Hamiltons RFC:
Hamiltons RFC Team:
15 Pierre Cronje, 14 Craig Pheiffer, 13 Jandre du Plessis, 12 Calvin Kotze, 11 Janno van Zyl, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Dylan Tidbury, 8 Jody Burch, 7 Nieuwoudt Gresse, 6 Gareth Rowe, 5 Tian Fick, 4 Henk Franken, 3 Attie Winter, 2 JG Giliomee, 1 Christo McNish
16 Greg van Jaarsveld, 17 Justin ackerman, 18 Denzel Riddles, 19 Sphephelo Buthelizi, 20 Justice Kote, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Iewan Bartels
|Villager FC 1st XV||Hamiltons RFC 1st XV||Villager ‘A’||16:00|
|Villager FC 2nd XV||Hamiltons RFC 2nd XV||Villager ‘A’||14:45|
|Villager FC 3rd XV||Hamiltons RFC 3rd XV||Villager ‘A’||13:35|
|Villager FC u20||Hamiltons RFC u20||Villager ‘B’||14:35|
|Villager FC ‘Old Crocks’||Hamiltons RFC ‘Dynamiters’||Villager ‘A’||12:30|