TIRFU Raiders

Lee Roebeck writes that TIRFU Raiders will be 120 years old in 2009.

The Club is planning a full year of Celebrations which will include National tours for both Juniors and Seniors teams and a trip to the UK for U/21 team and a tour for the U/16 team to Australasia. Raiders Rugby Club plays their rugby at the Bill Jardine Stadium .The Bill Jardine Rugby Stadium (formerly known as the Longdale Stadium) has been used as a rugby stadium for approximately two decades. As the home of non-racial rugby in the old Transvaal, the stadium was the headquarters of the Transvaal Independent Rugby Football Union (TIRFU) which was founded in 1889 and which was one of the twenty-two affiliates of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

TIRFU had approximately 16 clubs. These clubs, drawn from the community, including the Good Hopes RFC (established 1919); the All Blacks RFC (1927); Collegians RFC (1930’s); Newtonians RFC (1948) and Roses RFC (1955), had been in existence for decades.

Other rugby clubs which followed, with a proud history and tradition, include Falcons, Corinthians, Pumas, Young Tigers, Swansea as well as St. Anthony’s & St. Marks from Boksburg. Older clubs not known to many of the current players include Swifts, Diggers, Wanderers, Caledonians and Versatiles.

Following unity in 1992, most of these clubs united to form the TIRFU RAIDERS Rugby Football Club and from then on competed in the leagues of the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU).

RAIDERS is therefore one of the oldest rugby institutions in South Africa and in the Gauteng community continues to provide an opportunity for the development of rugby players in the region, especially those from the historically disadvantaged communities in the region.

Several RAIDERS players have attained distinction in the GLRU. Notably : Jaco Booysen, Conrad Jantjies, Baksteen Nel, Heinrich Kok, John Daniels, Wylie Human and now Enrico Januarie and Earl Rose. Significantly, six players from the TIRFU fold were awarded Springbok blazers by SARFU in 2000 in recognition of playing at national level in the pre-unity era. They are Clive Sharpe, Viv Booysen, Mustapha Davis, Des Booysen, Jerome McBride and George Smith.

It is obvious that with its rich tradition, proud history and support from a community with a rugby culture, Raiders Rugby Football Club could grow and develop into one of the most successful and best-known clubs in South Africa. This is indeed a club for the New South Africa.

Over the past four years Raiders improved in leaps and bounds thanks to our sponsors, a committed executive and dedicated coaches and players.

The home ground of Raiders is the Bill Jardine Stadium which is located in the South West of Johannesburg on Commando Road in Industria West between the Highgate shopping center and the Metro Rail line from Johannesburg to Soweto. It is close to the Longdale Station. In 2001 circumstances forced Raiders to sign a 10-year lease with the City of Johannesburg to take over the facility. In effect this translates to the club managing and taking full responsibility for the maintenance of the facility.

The phenomenal progress on the playing field resulted in Raiders being the first club from a previously disadvantaged community to be promoted to the Premier league of the Golden Lions Rugby Union in 2003. Six teams are entered in the leagues of the Golden Lions Rugby Union. It is the ambition of the club to become the top club in the country. Raiders adopted the slogan “Raiders producing the Springboks of tomorrow”. Today RAIDERS has a completely non-racial membership of +150. Players come from mostly surrounding areas such as Meadowlands, Orlando East, Diepkloof, Fleurhof, Industria, Riverlea, Bosmont, Claremont, Westbury, Coronationville, Crosby, Sophia Town, Auckland park, Mayfair, Noordgesig, Newlands and Central Johannesburg. We also draw players from all over Gauteng. In addition to this the club prides itself in scouting for talent from all corners of South Africa. We have players from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Free State, Middelburg, Boland, Border and Kimberley. In 2005 we also have players from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda and in 2007 players form Cameroon who played a significant role in our success.

As far as coaching is concerned our Director of coaching Derek Jardine has been involved and coached in the coaching staff of the GLRU since 1991 – Presidents Teams, Sub Union Teams ,Golden Lions Seven team and assisted with the 2002 victorious Lions Vodacom Cup team. Raiders Coaching Committee consist of Twelve Coaches and an additional 6 managers headed by Des Booysen which from part if the Clubs team management.

Raiders administrators have excelled with club chairman Neville Jardine and club president Mark Alexander elected as vice presidents of the Golden Lions Rugby Union. Several members of our executive serve on committees of the GLRU.

The support from the rugby authorities was demonstrated through the staging of Vodacom matches and the Women’s Springbok trials at the Bill Jardine Stadium.

Today Raiders is the only club from a previously disadvantaged community to play in the Pirates Grand Challenge of the GLRU and lost narrowly to the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in the semi-finals of 2007.