Finally, on 2 September 2011the Bar and the Side Bar met for the long-awaited 4th famous fifteen-yearly rugby match for the G.A. Fichardt floating trophy. The Bloemfontein legal fraternity packed the Free State Rugby Stadium for the epic clash, with patrons to the Bar and Side Bar teams, consisting of 15 players and 8 reserves each, being former player-opponents Henry Viljoen S.C., now of the Cape Bar, and Bert Sorour of the Free State Rugby Union.
The Bar teams of 1966 and 1981 brought home the trophy. In 1996, unfortunately, it made a termporary (we hope!) detour to the Side Bar. But, fortunately, at least 13 warriors of that last fierce fight are still very much with us, namely Wessels, Benade, Fischer, Loubser, Moller, Pohl, Ploos van Amstel, Zietsman, Daffue, Edeling, Burger, Hefer and Reinders and 2 still very much make their presence felt on the Bench (Judges Van der Merwe and Jordaan) while Judge Cillié played his key role in 1981. Van Rooyen and Claassen (co-members of the Bar for 25 years) resumed their former duties as linesmen with Prof Johan van Schalkwyk of UOFS as TV- and Honorary ref (official referee in 1981 and 1996) to assist and/or threaten with red or yellow cards Dr Brand Claassen, the referee, while Moller, since promoted to official sports pshycologist boasts of having put the Bar team through its own secret Kamp Staaldraad in its determined (but vain) attempt to re-capture that trophy.
In a concerted effort to even the playing field, allegedly no person under the age of 30 and no-one who has played either Provincial rugby or Club rugby in the past ten years was eligible for either of the teams, but, whether that injunction was indeed adhered to by the attorneys is a matter for another day. The Bar’s 3 impact players, the over-60’s (Wessels, Knoetze and Ploos van Amstel), in their pink shorts were not only not allowed to be tackled, held back or pushed, but were also forbidden to move more than 20 paces at a time with the ball. Not that that prevented Majeli Wessels from scoring a try and being made ‘man of the match’ during their 2 minutes of glory on the field, however! The over-50’s in their white shorts (Daffue, Edeling and Loubser) were not to be tackled, either, but valiantly closed up the flanks with fellow reserves Johnson and Groenewald, raring to replace the starting team of Zietsman, Van Aswegen (try-scorer), Pienaar, Olivier, Grobler, Rautenbach, Tsangarakis, Els, Snyman, Cilliers, Human, Steenkamp, Manye and Kitching, ably captained by Snellenburg.
So determined were the attorneys to hold onto that trophy, however, that they flatly refused and/or neglected, despite demand, to include in their team any over-50’s whatsoever. Fortunately the ferocious 40 minute battle was interrupted every 10 minutes for a timeous compulsory water break “to ward off dehydration”, so all our players, aged, aging or not, survived the match (though not unscathed). But unfortunately the attorneys’ prior threats of an abundance of rugby talent, speed and tactical kicking ability (not the least of which their YOUTH, of course) proved, on a balance of probabilities, to be not as idle as they appeared or were perceived to be and neither the pom-pom girls or the Bar’s very own traditional healer Steytler’s muti, its sjampanje-nooi Greyling’s charm, or even its praise-singer Motlaung’s soothsayings could ward off certain defeat and prevent the Side Bar from walking off with a 12 -10 victory. And with that, with the coveted trophy, too, of course.
So, guess what the FS Bar will be doing for the next 15 years…