Helderberg Rugby Club Background & History
Helderberg R.F.C was established in 1997 when the clubs Strand Somerset West R.F.C and Gordon’s Bay R.F.C. amalgamated to form one united first league club for the region. The Club fields five senior teams and three under 20 teams. The two largest local high schools are affiliated to the Helderberg R.F.C. The schools are Strand High School and Hottentots Holland High School.
The oldest and original club in the area, the Somerset West R.F.C. was founded in 1904. In 1968 the club officially renamed itself Strand Somerset West R.F.C. The new name reflected more accurately the area the club drew its players from. It also needs to be understood that the three towns had separate municipal councils and the home field of Somerset West R.F.C had for many years been in the sea side town of Strand. Most of the players were drawn from the Strand, a town developing fast and with more young people than Somerset West.
Somerset West R.F.C. (1904) produced many players who represented the Springboks and Western Province, the leading rugby playing province in South Africa. The club boasts three Springbok test rugby captains, namely Boy Morkel (1921) Phil Mostert (1931/32) and Stephen Fry (1955). Another interesting fact is that eleven members of the Morkel family played for Western Province, six of whom also represented South Africa.
Gordon’s Bay R.F.C. was founded in 1934 and this provided a club for the then small village of Gordon’s Bay, the players were mostly fishermen, who were naturally not available when the fishing was particularly good. The village expanded slowly, but during and since the 1980’s the village became a town, much sought after as a permanent place of residence. In 1989 Gordon’s Bay R.F.C., at a special general meeting, decided to change the Club’s name to Gordon’s Bay Helderberg R.F.C. The change confirmed that the club drew from the greater Area. As the population grew, the club grew and rapidly rose to first league status, to become a new force in Club rugby.
Morkel Stadium in the Strand was named for a long service player, administrator and great benefactor of first Somerset West R.F.C and later Strand Somerset West R.F.C., Dr. Charles Morkel. Dr. Morkel represented Western Province as a second row forward and he was chiefly responsible for our club’s present playing fields and facilities. At the start of the 1997 season Helderberg R.F.C. was born and gave its first unsure but enthusiastic steps in the Western Province’s Super B League. The now far bigger club in terms of teams and players was a marriage of two clubs, formerly arch enemies. There were many examples of one brother playing for Gordon’s Bay and another for Strand Somerset West. At the end of 1997, the first year of Helderberg, the first team finished in the fifth log position.
In 1998 the Club’s expectations became a reality and not only did the first team win the Super B League, but the Club’s second, third, fourth and Under-21-A teams won their leagues. The Club’s league success earned promotion to the Super A league, Western Province’s top competition, in 1999. The loss of the successful senior coach, captain and vice captain was ill timed and more than cause for concern. At the end of 1999, the defection of these important role players cost the Club dearly. Helderberg finished second last and was relegated.
The year 2000 saw the start of the rebuilding of the club’s hopes and dreams and it was a painfully slow process, which came to fruition, when at the end of 2001 the first team again won the Super B league and subsequent promotion to the Super A league in 2002. This year the coaches, players and administrators worked tirelessly to cement the club’s place in the Super A league.
It is most pleasing to report that Helderberg R.F.C. once again have made sure of its ‘Super A’ league status for the 2010 season.