W.Province claim 2009 season was a success

Western Province’s 2009 rugby season came to a spectacular halt when all three of its teams vying for glory landed on the also-rans scrapheap in a matter of hours, despite home ground advantage at Newlands last Saturday.


The day of semi-finals at Newlands started off with Free State seeing off their Western Province under-19 counterparts and then it was the turn of the Sharks to dispose of Province in the under-21 curtain-raiser.


More woe followed for the some 48,000 Newlands faithful when the Province Currie Cup side were shaded by the Blue Bulls in their semi-final Cup clash.


But despite the triple disaster, Province’s senior professional coach Rassie Erasmus said at Tuesday’s media conference that rugby has made progress in the Mother City in recent times.


“Obviously disappointment comes up in the mind but after a while pride kicks in for the way (Currie Cup coach) Allister Coetzee and the whole (management) team as well as the players bounced back from a disastrous Super 14,” said Erasmus.


“Once the players shifted the focus (from Super 14 to Currie Cup) they carried on and took on one of the best teams (the Blue Buls) in the world and then came so close.


“We are definitely not happy that we did not reach the final and we have to look on the field to see how the players reacted to different situations.


“There were really lots of setbacks this year that Allister had to face up to after the Super 14 season.


“Losing Jean de Villiers, Gcobani Bobo going overseas, then Schalk Brits and Brian Mujati leaving, and then losing Adriaan Fondse, Willem de Waal, Conrad Janjtes to injuries and then the flyhalf Conrad Hoffmann was struggling with a hamstring, all just made it very difficult for the management.


“I’ve seen so many things that makes me believe that this team has made progress. One has to remember that in Saturday’s semi-final the team was down 12-0 and I’ve seen in the past Province suffering massive defeats like 75-12 at the hands of the Bulls but that did not happen this time.


“It could so easily have happened again but the team fought back, kept structure and Allister stayed calm and had a good plan at halftime. “The guys came back well in the second half.”


Erasmus said the two age-grade teams lost close contests but we was convinced that there is enough talent coming through the ranks to be optimistic about the future of Province rugby.


“Apart from the penalties we gave away, we didn’t have cool heads in the first 20 minutes,” said Erasmus.

 

“We were really frantic, running around playing dull rugby but somehow Allister got them to settle down.

“What we needed was more experienced players (like the Bulls) who have won the World Cup, beaten the British and Irish Lions and won other competitions.


“What was wonderful, however, was to see a player like Gio Aplon, who has been around for a few seasons, handle the ball so well on the big occasion. That is what we will be striving to do, to keep these players together.


“If a team like this (Province) shapes up against a Bulls team which won the Super 14 with 60 points then you know you have a team that is really competitive.”

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