Like most rugby clubs in South Africa, the Villager Football Club, the second oldest club in the country, is battling. But they have a plan that could help them and their players.
Players have high expectations in the era of paid rugby but Villagers hope that providing opportunities to young players may work.
There are four Villager players who are off to the New Zealand to play for Namibia in the World Cup - wing Conrad Marais, who will go to Montpellier after the World Cup, veteran Jané du Toit, who turns 36 during the World Cup and has been propping in the Villager Second XV, lock Henk Francken and prop Raoul Larsen.
From Cape Town to Windhoek to the World Cup.
Recently there was a lot of talk amongst clubs in the Western Province about the neglect of club players, their non-selection for representative teams, especially in the wake of the highly successful Varsity Cup which gives university sides national exposure each week. The University of Cape Town flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis was a case in point. Named Player of the Month in South Africa for August, he played for False Bay before moving to UCT and into the Varsity Cup. That gave him exposure and now he is a star in the Western Province side. It is rare for a player to come through the clubs to Western Province or the Stormers without playing in the Varsity Cup.
Villagers have contacts with Stade Français, through the Villager First XV head coach Pieter de Villiers who is a French legend, and, through their coach Fabien Galthié, Montpellier. Villagers are happy to give ambitious, young players the guarantee that they will try to find them overseas opportunities if they are good enough.
Three of their players have already been accepted by Montpellier - Conrad Marais, prop Johan Roets and flank Lionelle van Staden. In the opening round of the Top 14, Van Staden was in the squad that faced Racing-Métro in Paris.
Villager have two excellent coaches in Pieter de Villiers from Malmesbury who played 68 times for France, and Mike Bayly, the former Western Province three-quarter, and they buy into the Villager message: "Well send you further afield if you play for Villagers and are good enough."
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