EASTERN Province Rugby boss Cheeky Watson said this was the year the world sat up and took notice of the talent his region had produced at all levels.
In his report to Saturday’s well-attended EP Rugby annual meeting, Watson wrote the world had now been exposed to the truths that EP had known for years.
He was not able to attend the meeting because of pressing rugby duties, but his lengthy report was read to delegates by EP Rugby executive member Danie Gouws.
“In a news article I read this year, EP Rugby was described as a slumbering giant and this was the year that saw the giant beginning to stir, and I feel this is a fitting metaphor,” Watson wrote.
“At club level, we have seen GAP Despatch win the inaugural Cell C Community Cup against College Rovers, and have recently heard that GAP Despatch will face Eastern Province archrivals Spring Rose in the televised opening match of the 2014 Cell C Community Cup.
“This after Saru confirmed the New Brighton club as one of five wild cards to be invited to participate in the country’s flagship tournament for non-university clubs.
“Taking a look at the FNB Varsity Cup, the NMMU Madibaz were the highest-ranked NMMU team in the history of the tournament, obtaining fourth place overall, beating the overall Champions UP-Tuks, UJ, UFS-Shimlas and Wits en route to the semifinal, in which NMMU lost narrowly to Maties 16-15.”
Watson also praised the efforts of the Southern Kings and EP Kings.
“There has been a lot of talk over the year about the success achieved by the Southern Kings and even the Currie Cup team that managed to beat the odds and end second on the log despite not having access to our top players for half the season because they were still tied up in the Currie Cup.
“It is vital that we keep a tight rein on our financials, ensure that we are administratively sound and plan ahead to ensure that the growth we have experienced and the accomplishments that are being made can be maintained into the next year.”
Watson said he was proud that Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi and Sergeal Petersen had been called up to the wider Springbok Sevens training squad and that Aidon Davis played for the Baby Boks this year.
In his report, EP Rugby chief executive Charl Crous wrote: “There is no longer any doubt of the hunger for top-tier rugby in the province, with over 250000 passing through the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium over the eight home games.
“We have also had to field two professional sides simultaneously, something no other union has had to do … This stretched us beyond what we ourselves thought we were capable of and yet we were able to finish second on the overall log behind the Pumas.”