Wongs Dongs get cooking at Cape Town 10s
When the call came from the Wanderers Old Boys to join their Cape Town 10s team, I literally jumped from my seat and shouted, ‘Hell’s Yeah!’
The toughest part about moving to Cape Town was leaving the Wanderers Rugby Club. For those that have played there, you will know exactly what I’m talking about… The blood, sweat, broken bones and memories shared on the hallowed Kent Park forges a connection with the club for life. There’s an energy there that is so infectious, that you are willing to put it all on the line for your brothers, the Wanderers Chiefs!
So naturally, when Gavvie, Merry and the lads asked me to join the Wongs Dongs team at the Cape Town 10s, it was a no brainer.
What is the Cape Town 10s?
In its short history, the Cape Town 10s has become the largest 10s rugby tournament in the world. The brainchild of Springbok legends Bobby Skinstad and Robbie Fleck, the tournament started in 2009 and is held each year in February. The festival of rugby attracts talent from around the country as well as some international stars and celebrities keen to show off their skills.
For the 2015 edition, takealot.com was announced as the headline sponsor which positioned the tournament to exceed all previous years in terms of sheer awesomeness. And it did not disappoint 🙂
Rugby Legends such as Christian Cullen, Carlos Spencer, Anton van Zyl as well as celebs such as former Proteas Captain Graeme Smith, Jack Parow and Rob van Vuuren were seen strutting their stuff over the weekend. The tournament not only drew massive crowds, but many a Western Province and Springbok star was seen roaming around checking out the rugby. There was even a special appearance by the big man himself, Jonah Lomu on the final day.
So from the 5th of February till the 7th of February, not only was Hamilton’s Rugby Club held hostage to the biggest rugby (and netball) party of the year, it was witness to a force that would shake the rugby world forever – the debut of Wongs Dongs!
As I was the only sober member of the Dongs, I was charged with compiling this Official Tournament Report of the weekend.
Day 0 – The Arrival and Opening Ceremony
The lads met up at 8am and kicked off a solid team bonding session at the OR Tambo Airport Spur. After arriving in Cape Town and checking in at the hotel, the Dongs headed straight to the grounds for the Opening Ceremony of the tournament.
Suffice it to say that by the time I met up with the lads at 6pm, some of the okes looked a bit wobbly. But, that didn’t stop the antics from continuing…
As this was the maiden tour of the Wongs Dongs, a special capping ceremony was held in the main tent – officiated by our very own management team of Gavvie and Merry. Each player had their name called, their jersey and tour goodie bag (including flat peak cap, gold chain and boot bag #SWAG) presented to them, before proceeding in an orderly fashion to get their lashings from Natalie the whip master.
Once the formal proceedings were over, the Dongs got into some more spirited team bonding and also took time to mingle with some celebs and scout the opposition.
With the Dongs keen to prove that we would be the team to outperform both on and off the field, the one rule of the weekend was to keep it cooking. At 11pm, with the gees building to new heights and seeing that our first game would only be at 11:30am the next morning, the lads headed out to take in some of the sights and sounds of the Mother City. It was at this time that I bowed out and went home to the wife for some rest ahead of the next day’s events.
I was told that at 7am the last of the Dongs crawled in at the guest house (which shall remain unnamed as the lads still want to be able to stay there next year). It was none other than our tour manager Gavvie who (according to him) was now properly cooking and ready to rock straight to the fields for some rugby… <we didn’t see Gavvie again until late into our second game at 3:30pm…lol>
Day 1 – Let the Games Begin
While the lads were visiting Cape Town, I wanted to ensure that they had an authentic Mother City experience, so naturally I made sure that there was a full house steak gatsby ready for them at breakfast 🙂
Some of the lads were still a bit rough around the edges after the big night before, so the extra food seemed to help.
I didn’t expect to see as many of the boys down, but (in true Wanderers fashion) about 2hrs ahead of our first game everyone was kitted in their pre-game outfits. The only one missing was Gavvie, so we had to do our own management and admin for a while – proper team work!
As were in Pool C of the “Mainly Here for the Beer” league, we were expecting some fun rugby with okes tip toeing the line of sobriety and who probably had their best playing days truly well behind them. Oh how wrong we were! Some of these teams were taking this seriously, even going as far as recruiting former provincial players into their squads!!!
The Dongs, however, would not be backing down from this without proving that although fitness is temporary, class is permanent (or something along those lines…)
They may have had provincial players, but we had something better…Our very own secret weapon…our German Barmaid kit, complete with a rocking cleavage!
Our first game was against the Honey Badgers at 11:30am. They were on their second game of the morning after the Noakes Foundation lads gave them the run-around earlier. But, like a true Honey Badger, they showed tenacity and used their big ball runners effectively against us. The Dongs, while still trying to find some rhythm, conceded an early try. A power struggle continued in the middle of the park, with both teams making full use of the fatties up front to bash the other into submission.
Suddenly, midway through the second half the Honey Badgers seemed to run out of gas. They were clearly feeling the after-effects of the previous evening, plus two tough games. The Dongs seized this opportunity and switched on the burners and began to cook!
A late surge and a well taken try had us snatch the victory at 12-10. But, somehow, two extra points were given to the Honey Badgers for a phantom conversion that apparently took place?!? Never mind, in the spirit of this great game we call rugby, we let it go and ended up with the official result of 12-12.
With the lads finishing off the rest of the gatsby during lunch, the burners were now fully alight and the Dongs were ready to serve up some classy rugby – MasterChef-style!
Our second game was against the Noakes Foundation lads at 15:30pm. This team looked like they came straight from a One Direction look-alike competition. We remained wary of them as they’d taught the Honey Badgers a lesson earlier in the day on the benefits of youth.
In all honesty we went into this game a bit nervous and allowed the Noakes kids to run in two quick tries leaving us shell shocked at half-time.
In rugby, there are times when inspiration comes from the least expected places. Out of nowhere, Gavvie – our team manager / spiritual leader – appeared and without a word, lifted the entire spirit of the camp. Yes, these Noakes laaities were young and probably much fitter than us. But, we had something they didn’t… and so we unleashed the fatties!
With Brucie leading the charge, the White Buffalo unleashed all hell in the second half. Together with Sudza, they rained down a Blue Bulls styled bashing that had the poor Noakies cowering in fear. Wave after wave we sent our bulldozers right up the centre and claimed a famous turnaround victory of 15-12, with Nolan coolly slotting a drop goal to seal the result.
Now we were cooking baby!
As brightly as we had shone in the second game, by our third and final game of the day against Inquina Legends at 18:30pm, we were out of gas and suffering from a similar fate as the Honey Badgers before us. Three hours between fixtures can have this effect on you.
Those Inquina boys came at us hard, managed to turn around the lead we held for 80% of the game and snatched a 12-17 victory right at the death. By the end of the day’s rugby, the Dongs had suffered a number of casualties:
- Frenchie (hamstring),
- the Badger (knee),
- Noel (broken ribs), and
- Me (concussion)
I don’t remember much of the rest of that evening, but a special thanks has to go out to the Mediclinic doctors that provided some excellent care to the lads.
The rest of the Dongs went on to represent at the main tent festivities, showing everyone how to get down like a Chief!
Day 2 – Finals Day and Closing
Gavvie, now fully back from his Thursday night MasterChef experience, informed us that we had qualified for the Mainly Here for the Beer Bowl Tournament. This meant that we had an early start to the day at 9am against the Bok Radio team.
That quarter final proved no contest as the Wongs Dongs quickly despatched the Bok Radio team with a 12-0 victory. This thrust us into the semi-final spot.
At 12:20pm we kicked off the semi-final against Die Laeveld Skobbejakke. This team had spirit and pushed us all the way with their balance between strong ball carriers and quick outside backs. The Dongs scrambled to cover the sides and slowly managed to corral the play into the middle of the pitch where we were most comfortable.
Momentum then swung in our favour and we started to pick up the pace. Slowly the Skobbejakke started to fade as we unleashed our big runners for a late flourish.
A try to finish off the second half had Wongs Dongs secure the victory at 14-7. We were in the final!
This is when it hit us…maybe we could actually win this thing?
Gavvie and Merry made the executive call that the lads had to slow down on the post-game supplementation and save the carbo-loading for post-final.
A new energy was rising in the Dongs camp. But, we could not believe the hand that we were dealt as our opposition for the final was announced…
Lo and behold, we would be facing off against Pirates Buccaneers, the team representing the Wanderers arch-rivals Pirates at 3pm! How far we have travelled only to battle it out with our local Joburg nemesis on this most sacred of occasions – the Cape Town 10s.
As is tradition between Pirates and Wanderers, the coin toss was replaced by a boat race. To make sure the teams would be playing fair, the referee was brought in to officiate.
Pirates won the boat race amidst speculation that they had brought in professionals to give them the edge.
But, sadly for them, this was the only thing they would win as the Wongs Dongs completely annihilated them in what was probably the best performance all weekend!
They even started one guy in a hotdog costume as part of their sly mind games, but it did not stop the one-way traffic on that field. Even Nolan’s “inches speech” wasn’t really necessary as by halftime the Buccaneers didn’t have any fight left in them.
In the end, the Dongs ran out 26-0 victors and were crowned Mainly Here for the Beer Bowl Champions for 2015.
With celebrations continuing into the night, the lads made sure that they left their mark on the Cape Town 10s with dance-offs to the tunes of Kurt Darren. The Wongs Dongs are here and we ain’t going nowhere!
Farewell to the Cape Town 10s
Leaving the tournament with silverware in our maiden outing was really special as most of the lads were keen on just having a jol during the tournament. The Cape Town 10s lived up to its reputation and provided some great memories for us all. Similarly, the Wongs Dongs chargers will also be remembered for their antics 🙂
As is customary with tournament reports, the player of the tournament (aka MVP) has to be awarded. Many players put up their hands with some really special play:
- Brucie with his bulldozing runs,
- Duane for all the big hits,
- Nolan for his amazing drop goals,
- Merry for his ability to pick up yellow cards,
- Hacker for playing in two teams, and
- Dale for his epic facial hair…
But, none of them can hold a candle to the one man who didn’t even play a single minute the entire weekend. You may know by one of his many names our captain / manager / spiritual leader / The Gavinator / Chairman Mao / Magic Hongsen aka Gavvie for keeping it cooking all weekend. We love you bro!
As quickly as they arrived, the boys were back off to Joburg and back to normal life. That Monday after the tournament was probably the toughest as the post-tour depression kicked in. Many an expression of love for their bro’s was exclaimed via the Official Wongs Dongs Whatsapp Group.
Special mention has to be made to Merry, Gavvie, Frenchie, Solly and Zane (apologies whomever else I forgot) for the big part you lads played in organising the finer details to make all this possible.
If I forgot to mention any critical cooking-related events – blame it on the concussion 🙂
The Wongs Dongs will be back in 2016…
If you were at the Cape Town 10s this year, post your team name and share some of your highlights of the tournament in the comments section below.
For more information about the Cape Town 10s check out the website here