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Photo: Sebastiaan Whitward

Dagbreek Men’s Residence won the 2023 u/20 Campus rugby trophy in an epic clash against Helderberg. After an onslaught of near misses, they came back from being down 0 — 12 at the start of the second half to beating Helderberg 21 — 19 with eight minutes to spare. Helderberg scored under the posts within 40 seconds with the try easily converted. It was at this moment the Dagbreek team realized that they might have a long night ahead of them. 

Dagbreek maintained possession early, but seemed somewhat shaky. Early pressure won them a penalty and regrouped after sustaining an early dagger from Helderberg. Although it was not scored, they took it in stride as they looked flustered but confident. 

Helderberg had entrenched themselves on their five meter line with Dagbreek looking threatening. Helderberg were up a try but could not maintain possession for longer than 30 seconds in the first 10 minutes of the game. Now, their defense was being tested. After a couple of confrontations close to the Helderberg try-line, Dagbreek won another penalty but failed to open their account as the score remained 0 – 7 in favor of Helderberg. 

Photo: Sebastiaan Whitward

However, Helderberg proved that they do not have to have the ball for very long to find the other side of the try line as their left wing pulled off a clinical finish in the 13th minute. The score was now 0 – 12 as the outside center failed to convert the try. As the first half ticked away, Dagbreek looked frustrated with the fact that they were unable to capitalize off the chances they had made so far in the game. A glimmer of hope came along as the Helderberg fly-half was being shown a yellow card, but Dagbreek still could not muster a single point in the first half.

Dagbreek came into the second half knowing that there was a steep hill to climb if they were to win the match. Whatever hope Dagbreek had of fatiguing Helderberg during the first half was crushed when the Helderberg hooker scored a try three minutes into the second half. 

Nevertheless, the Dagbreek men were determined as they finally scored their first try with 36 minutes of total game time elapsed. The score suddenly became 7 — 17 and the comeback was officially on. Shortly after fumbling another chance, Dagbreek inched closer to the win with another try to make it 14 — 19. They were now five points away with 17 minutes left to play. 

Photo: Sebastiaan Whitward

After a herculean effort from Dagbreek, they were finally rewarded with the lead after a try right underneath the Helderberg posts with eight minutes left on the clock to make the score 21 — 19. As the Dagbreek fly-half slotted the kick through the posts, elation erupted from the Dagbreek stands. This was a stark contrast to the deafening silence emanating from the Helderberg end. 

Photo: Sebastiaan Whitward

The Bridge the Gap Foundation received a R20 000 check from Adam Piper in celebration of the successful tournament. Dr Pierre Viviers, Vice President of the Maties Rugby Club, did the honor of handing over the coveted trophy to a jubilant Dagbreek. The man of the match was Hugo Radley from Dagbreek.

“It was definitely the hardest game of the year, physically, for everyone,” said Michael Coetzee, fullback for Helderberg, lamenting the loss and cited test week as a large factor in keeping good players in the bib. However, there is still a lot of rugby to be played in the 2023 season and he feels optimistic about Helderberg’s chances in the upcoming SAUER cup. 

“Feels like a dream that hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Ignus van Deventer, replacement loose forward for Dagbreek. He said that the motivational speech the coach delivered at half time was the key to securing the win.

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