CCC Brakpan Rugby Club prepares for the upcoming season

There is some excitement around CCC Brakpan Rugby Club.

People around the club believe this season, which kicks off in March, could see the local club returning to being a powerhouse club rugby.

“A lot has to do with Darlton Botha and his team,” said chairman Harry Nieuwenhuis.

Botha is Brakpan’s new first-team head coach after guiding the U21 side to the Valke league finals last year. He also coached Valke’s U21 team to the Currie Cup final.

This season Nieuwenhuis wants the club to qualify for next year’s Gold Cup. For that to happen Brakpan has to qualify for the Valke Peregrine finals which they missed out on in 2022 as they lost in the semi-finals.

“Some of the U21s from last season will play in the first team and a lot of the seniors will still be there,” said the chairperson.

“We look forward to a great year. The coaches have their goals.”

While the fixture list is not yet available, Brakpan does know that the season starts on March 25. This is slightly earlier than normal. This means they will have to bear playing in hot conditions.

“What’s great about this coaching team is that they have been training on Saturdays as well,” he said.

“They have been training between 08:00 and 12:00, so the hot weather won’t be a problem. There’s a lot of commitment to turn this side into a Gold Cup side.”

Nieuwenhuis, however, is cautious.

“We have a new coaching staff and new players. They are still getting into it. We don’t want to put them under too much pressure,” said the veteran chairperson.

“We have a three-year plan to get the team and club back to get to the party and be something special. Not only in the Valke but the Gold Cup like we used to be. We want to be playing against the best of the Bulls’ sides and be back in the Gold Cup. We are putting in everything they need to be successful.”

Brakpan had their AGM last Wednesday where Nieuwenhuis was, once again, elected as chairperson.

“The reason I stood again was that I can see something is happening and want to be part of it,” he said.

Botha is also confident about the year ahead as he believes their training is on schedule. They started preparing for the 2023 season last October.

“Our target is to have the guys at 80% fitness by the time we get to the first friendly,” said Botha.

“You can’t get to 100% without playing matches. Some fitness can only be acquired through playing. The Saturday training helps because you can be as fit as you want to be but you still need to know where to run otherwise you’ll be like a headless chicken. It’s a balancing act to get the physical side, the mental side and the actual structure ready.”

Nieuwenhuis believes Botha will make a big difference to the club’s first team as the coach has a real passion for the club.

“Previous coaches were not community-based Brakpan,” said the chairperson.

“Darlton is making a huge difference. He played at this club. He’s giving the team everything. That’s a huge difference in approach.”

Also read: Brakpan Rugby Club hard at work

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