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Bringing back the glory days

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“The club gets no help from the Griqualand West Rugby Union, and as a community-based club, they have many, many challenges to get sponsorships"

OLD BOYS: The Universal RFC club is still going strong after almost 133 years. Picture: Supplied

One of the oldest rugby clubs in South Africa, Universal RFC, celebrates its 133rd anniversary this year.

The club was established in Kimberley in 1886 when the City was little more than a sprawling mining settlement. The dusty mine dumps that now form an indelible part of the City’s landscape were still under development.

Running in synch with the anniversary celebrations, plans are in place to regain the club’s glory years when the AR Abass Stadium in Square Hill Park was the hub of social activity in the community.

Former club chairman Lloyd Louw will be convening an inaugural meeting over the Easter Weekend of ex-players, administrators and supporters from the club. The group intends to formalise the Old Boys structure and to discuss ways of supporting the club by spearheading fund-raising initiatives and raising sponsorships.

Speaking to the DFA yesterday Louw spoke about why the meeting was important.

“The main purpose is to see if the Old Boys Association can assist the Club to survive,” he said. “We also want to see how we can assist with the day-to-day challenges.”

Asked why the club has these challenges, Louw responded: “The club gets no help from the Griqualand West Rugby Union, and as a community-based club, they have many, many challenges to get sponsorships.

“Even getting to use their own AR Abass Stadium for their home games and for practices is also a major challenge for the club,” Louw added. “Last season they had to pay to hire a venue for their home games.

“Added to all this, they also have to pay for the referee and touch judges for their home games.”

Louw said that the headaches did not stop there. “Traveling costs for away games is also a challenge as most of the players are from disadvantaged communities.”

An open invitation has been extended to all former players of the Universal Rugby Football Club, as well as administrators and supporters to attend the Universal Old Boys Association inaugural meeting.

The former chairman said that the support of former members and fans could possibly be the injection that is needed to sustain one of the country’s oldest active rugby teams.

“We need to plan for the 135th anniversary in 2021, and to take the club to 150 and beyond,” Louw said.

The meeting will be convened at the Northern Cape Cricket Diamond Oval, Train Pavilion on Saturday April 20.

The meeting starts at 10am. Interested parties may also contact Lloyd Louw at 083 308 3823 for the programme details.