The greatest honour which the present day members of the Retreat Rugby Club can bestow on the founders and legends is to lead the club into the top league competitions in the Western Province Rugby Football Union.
The club celebrates its 125th anniversary this year and has planned numerous events to mark the occasion, says club chairman Gurshon Daniels.
The first event to mark the anniversary was however impacted by a taxi strike which resulted in Young Standards from Paarl not being able to participate in the Day of Rugby event at the club’s headquarters in Allenby Drive in Retreat on Saturday.
“This present management’s main objective is to play in the Super League in the future, because if it doesn’t happen it will be very difficult to keep the club going for another 100 years,” said Daniels.
The club was founded in 1898 after the merger of the Lakeside and United rugby clubs. While the club’s colours at the time were maroon and white, these days they flaunt their striped purple and white jerseys and are known as the Purple Bulls.
However, the club crest has not changed much over the decades and is filled with military history with a cannon as a focal point in the badge. It is similar to that of the English Premier League football team Arsenal, better known as the Gunners.
Daniels, a former player at the club, took over the reins from Anthony Almacin six months ago in a major executive reshuffle.
“Things did not go according to plan on the playing field this season, because our short-term goal was precisely to be able to make it to the play-offs in the City League, because it would have given a chance for promotion. But we’re resigned ourselves to this and have already started planning for next season,” Daniels said.
He believes the club’s rich history puts the onus on the current management and supporters as well as the legends to take the club to new heights.
“Setting such goals to the rugby community is a deliberate attempt to put the club on a new path, otherwise we will stay where we are now. I believe our ancestors would be very proud of us if we were to play in WP’s Superliga A. This is the first prize for me and my exco.
“During the past three months, we have succeeded in increasing our members (and still growing). Now we want to strengthen the juniors section. Our junior section used to be our pride but for various reasons we could not sustain it. We are not the only sporting code battling with this.
“The previous management kept the club going in difficult times and under difficult conditions. Now it’s time to take it further,” said Daniels.
The last time the Cape top league played was in the ranks of the City and Suburban Union in the former Saru days at City Park when they won the league cup in 1981 and 1989.