Sep 30, 2020

Fidelity Services Group Club Rugby Column

Philip Braybrook with Jeremy Thompson and Andrew Mehrtens.

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When one looks back in time and discover how many of our rugby clubs were founded it certainly makes for some interesting reading.

Starting with the younger clubs. When one talks of rugby with a country vibe one immediately thinks of The Hillcrest Villagers RFC founded under a street light in the then small village in 1969 on the corner of Hospital and Old Main Road before officially starting their rugby journey in 1970. In those early years at the club the players would practice at Highbury Preparatory School while meetings were held at the Hillcrest Hotel, which affectionately became known as the ‘Big House’.

Their field was leveled in 1973 at the Hillcrest Sport club and in the early years before joining the KZNRU Leagues they had many friendly games against Winterton now Drakensberg Rugby Club, Wartburg Old Teds and Mooi River. So we salute the great men that started it all Danny Williams, Danny Le Tourner, John Birt, Sakkie Steyn, and Rod Copeland. Kicking off their journey in the then Seventh Division, which no longer exists they won in fine style to take the Sixth Division the following year and so their success story began.

Interesting that Vox Crusaders Rugby Club was founded in 1965 but the origins of the Northlands Old Boys Sports Club, as it was originally known as, can be traced back to 1959. Whilst not many current members of the Rugby Club like to hear the story it was Percy Hardacher, the then Headmaster of the young Northlands High School who was to the school as Skonk Nicholson was to Maritzburg College, that met with founder members Rodney Kenyon, Alan Hatch, Cedric Henderson, Kenny Reardon and a few others in the Berea Rovers Club, which was based in the city center at the time. Many of the new members joining Northlands Old Boys at the time had been members of Rovers and as Northlands Old Boys it was understandable that they gave their support to the new club.

Kenny Reardon moved from Rovers to what we know as Crusaders in 1969 and brought with him Tim Clarke who had been the Rovers First XV scrumhalf and had played with the legendary Natal Skipper Peter Taylor. Clarkes influence at Northlands was to be the turning point for the club as they grew from strength to strength becoming known as Crusaders in 1985.

Next week we will take you down memory lane with some of the other younger clubs as well as the more established clubs.