Sixteen teams from as far afield as Gansbaai and Port Nolloth in Namaqualand will once again gather in the West Coast town of Velddrif this weekend for the 25th annual SARU SA Fish Factory tournament.
The two-day event, hosted once again by the Boland Rugby Union, was conceptualised by the late Dr Danie Craven, former Springbok centre Ian Kirkpatrick and ex-Proteas skipper Dougie Dyers. First held in Saldanha Bay in 1987, it aims to provide players employed in the fishing industry with the chance to play rugby with the colleagues they work with on a daily basis.
The teams for this year's tournament hail from traditional fishing industry towns including St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay, Langebaan and Elands Bay.
“The Fish Factory tournament is truly unique in that many of the players who represent their clubs during the year in the various provincial leagues swap their club jerseys for those of their employers for this tournament,” said SARU General Manager: Development, Mervin Green. “For others, because of the nature of their work, it's the only time of the year that they get a chance to run out onto the field. That's how much this tournament means to them and it's vitally important that we as SARU continue to support it."
Some of the players who have played in Fish Factory tournament include former Springboks Ricky Januarie, Ashwin Willemse and Dale Santon, as well as Springbok Sevens player Ryno Benjamin.
Dyers, the tournament's honorary president and captain of the Proteas against, amongst others, England (1972) and the 1974 British & Irish Lions, said the spirit of the Fish Factory tournament had to be preserved.
"Players get to represent their factories, which is their bread and butter," said Dyers. "In any club team you usually have 15 guys with 15 different jobs, but for the Fish Factory tournament the entire team know each other like brothers because they work together day in, day out.
“The tournament has come a long way over the past 25 years and together with the support of SARU and Boland I believe it can only get better."
A – Marine Products, Mykonos, Oranjevis, Vital Connection B
B – Oceana Brands, Cerebos A, Gansbaai A, Hondeklipbaai
C – West Point, Port Nolloth, Cerebos B, I&J
D – Elands Bay, Doringbaai, Vital Connection A, Sea Harvest
08h00 – Marine Products vs Mykonos (Match 1)
08h40 – Oranjevis vs Vital Connection B (Match 2)
09h20 – Oceana Brands vs Cerebos A (Match 3)
10h00 – Gansbaai A vs Hondeklipbaai (Match 4)
1040 – Port Nolloth vs West Point (Match 5)
11h20 – Cerebos B vs I&J (Match 6)
12h00 – Elandsbaai vs Doringbaai (Match 7)
12h40 – Vital Connection A vs Sea Harvest (Match 8)
13h30 – Opening Ceremony
14h00 – Winner 1 vs Winner 2
14h40 – Loser 1 vs Loser 2
15h20 – Loser 3 vs Loser 4
16h00 – Winner 3 vs Winner 4
1640 – Loser 5 vs Loser 6
1720 – Winner 5 vs Winner 6
Saturday's fixtures begin at 08h00 with the two remaining first-round matches. The Cup final will take place at 15h10 and the prize-giving at 16h30.