Marine Products were crowned winners of the 24th Annual SARU SA Fish Factory Tournament in the West Coast town of Velddrif on Saturday after beating Gansbaai 19-12 in the Cup final held at the Smit sports grounds.
A festive crowd of 5,000 watched on as Marine Products, who are based in Velddrif, produced an excellent display to win the overall title. The Plate went to I&J of Cape Town, while the Bowl was won by West Point of St Helena Bay.
The two-day tournament was the brainchild of the late Dr Danie Craven, former Springbok centre Ian Kirkpatrick and former Proteas skipper Dougie Dyers. It was first held in Saldanha Bay in 1987. Its aim is to provide players working in the fishing industry with an opportunity to participate in sport and wear the colours of their employers.
This year’s competition, once again organised by the Boland Rugby Union, featured 12 competing teams from fishing towns as far afield as St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay, Langebaan, Gansbaai, Elands Bay and Port Nolloth.
“We used to have more teams but it’s a reflection of the decline in the fishing industry,” said organising committee member Hendrik Snyders. “But the tournament is unique in that many of the players who represent their clubs during the year swap their jerseys for those of their employers for this tournament. For others it’s the only time of the year that they put on their boots. That’s how much this tournament means to them and there’s no shortage of quality on display.”
Some of the players who have come through the ranks of the Fish Factory tournament include former Springboks Ricky Januarie, Ashwin Willemse and Dale Santon, as well as Springbok Sevens flyer Ryno Benjamin.
Boland Rugby Union president Francois Davids, who is also the tournament organising committee chairman, said the tournament remained vitally important to the fishing communities along South Africa’s coastline.
“In the two years that I’ve been involved I’ve seen first-hand how sport unifies people,” he said. “Politics can’t do this but sport can. This tournament is a great example of that. The players and the spectators have enjoyed themselves and there is always a great atmosphere.”
Dyers, the tournament’s honorary president and captain of the Proteas against, amongst others, England (1972), the 1974 British & Irish Lions and the 1976 All Blacks, said the uniqueness of the Fish Factory tournament must be preserved.
“It’s a great opportunity for the players to play in a work environment situation and represent their factories, which is their bread and butter,” said Dyers. “The tournament has come a long way over the past 24 years and together with the support of SARU and Boland it can only get better.”
Results – Day 1:
Vital Connection 10 Gansbaai A 19
Oceana Brands 13 Sea Harvest 3
West Point 0 Gansbaai B 6
Marine Products 14 I&J 7
Gansbaai A 14 Port Nolloth 5
Oceana Brands 9 Cerebos 10
West Point 8 Oranjevis 8
Marine Products 10 Elandsbaai 0
Vital Connection 16 Port Nolloth 12
Sea Harvest 0 Cerebos 6
Gansbaai B 3 Oranjevis 17
I&J 25 Elandsbaai 17
Results – Day 2:
Port Nolloth 10 Sea Harvest 3
West Point 13 Elandsbaai 10
Vital Connection 10 Oceana Brands 13
Gansbaai B 20 I&J 34
Gansbaai A 12 Cerebos 9
Oranjevis 3 Marine Products 21
West Point 14 Port Nolloth 12
I&J 18 Oceana Brands 15
Marine Products 19 Gansbaai A 12
Forward Player of the Tournament:
Ricardo Bratt (Marine Products)
Backline Player of the Tournament:
Willisley van Rooy (Oceana Brands)
Player of the Tournament:
Barney Cloete (Port Nolloth)