The Springbok's Spring a Surprise!
With limited sponsorship and lack of training in the ways of normal European fishing, South Africa is exceeding all expectations, culminating this year in an outstanding 20th place on the Lage Vaart.

Now you may question the word outstanding, however, when you look back at their day one position you will see why. A dismal 35th place out of 38 teams, with their best angler scoring 4 points and their worse, 13pts (that's last in a sector!). It looked like that specially reserved place for them at the foot of the championship board was assured! Fortunately, no one seemed to have told them where they were going to eventually finish up!

Day two approached and it was one thing, and one thing only, that occupied their thoughts... going for it! With little to lose and everything to gain, the team set about looking for big fish, something they are more than competent at doing, when you analyse the nature of their sport back home. Bream had been showing up in pockets throughout the canals' sections, so their tactics were simply to target them and hope they got lucky, they did and with great effect.

With an eventual fish count of 75 on the day, resulting in a haul of 25 points, it was a fish number that only the Ukraine beat with 74 fish... and they finished bottom on 63pts! That displayed the measure of their success, it was bream they had targeted and bream they had caught. This amazing change of fortune saw them take 7th place on the final day, half a point behind England and half a point in front of Italy. That propelled them up the leader board to occupy an overall solid 20th position, the best in their WC history.

The achievement for this small nation of match anglers, in reaching such an exalted, and some may say uncharacteristic, position will do wonders for their future competitive mentality. Their success can be judged to be equivalent to those teams on a higher level, in terms of returns. Remember, we are talking about a southern hemisphere nation, who's sport back home has little in common with European type fishing, with the exception of carp, of course!

Claudio Matteoli said at the presentation that Slovakia's win was good for the competition, but I am more incline to look to those teams who have exceed their lowly status in the championships and made much more significant improvements, but that's not meant to undermine Slovakia's accomplishment. South Africa not only improved from day one, but made middle order teams sit up and start to look over their shoulders! This was not just a consequence of the new points system either. Using the old points system, they actually would have finished in 5th place on the day, in front of England, Italy AND Slovakia!

Other teams worthy of praise in this respect were Bulgaria, who after a first day disaster which placed them one off bottom, they seemingly followed the SA example and went for broke. They finished Sunday's match with 30pts and 16th place, a very respectable score, pity about the first day though. Finally, the tiny Channel Islands. Not only did they finished in overall 18th place, but secured one of their few section wins ever. Teams like these give hope to others of lowly rank, they are an example of what can be achieved, not in terms of medals, but in pride of finishing higher than everyone's expectations, that's the true achievement of the Championships.

Some interesting facts about South African match fishing
  • 2009 produced the best result ever for the South African team and their day two score will rank high in the roll of honours, along with Jaco Goodwin's 2008 section win in Spinadesco (a FULL section back then!).
  • They have been competitors in WC events since the early 1980's, but in between suffered both political and sporting isolation for about decade They re-emerged into the sporting fold in 1994.
  • Match angling occupies a very small part of fishing in SA, most is based around feeder/ledgering.
  • The team is now managed by Annetjie Lubbe, wife of team member Werner Lubbe. She is also a strong competitor in the Ladies world events.
  • The only similarity with European style fishing in SA is when fishing for mudfish, a type of European barbel. Grass carp are also become more widespread in the country.
  • SA is eventually preparing for a future World Games, but hosting the 2010 Ladies World Championships is the first step in this progression. They are hopeful of bringing a Junior and Senior event to their country in the not too distant future.
  • SA match angling attracts little in the way of sponsorship, but this years main groundbait sponsor, Van Den Eynde, can take some credit for the teams success. Major tackle manufacturers are sorely lacking.