Nothing strengthens the lure of rugby like a memorable moment – maybe a conversion kick, a try scored in the last seconds or perhaps shock underdogs shaking the world with a memorable triumph over a tip top group.
It has been four years of ups and downs in the UJ Women’s Rugby team; in 2017, they finally got a chance to grow. The season is over and so far, it has been one of the greatest years they have been through.
Here are some of their most prominent triumphs:
- Getting great results from an inexperienced team
“Most of these members did not even have rugby background and yet managed to get positive results, despite competing with people who have been playing rugby for long and have experience,” said the team Manager, Liphiwe Nxasana.
The team only had 4 senior players. The younger ones needed to be taught basic rugby rules and how the game is played. There was a close match already scheduled for them.
On their first game, in May 2017, they won 17-7 against Wonderers Ladies club.
History repeated itself when they once again won 29-21 against Wonderers Ladies club in April 2017.
Both matches were friendlies. However, “The Wonderers game was a wakeup call for us. It helped us work on all our weaknesses and start playing as a team since there was a lot of individualism,” said the team’s captain, Lesego Malebadi.
- Getting Professional Aid
For the past years the team did not have proper resources. They used old kits and had oversized shorts that needed tailoring.
“Now we have a proper kit. We have better facilities in our training camp as well,” Malebadi said. “We also got a chance to play at [Bill Jardine Stadium and the UJ West Sports Field] for the first time, which was amazing.”
The team received a sponsor from Aquelle on their first rugby tournament. Behind the curtains, “The girls are slowly getting academic advises; they are now offered bursaries, an environment for girls to grow in rugby and see themselves playing nationally,” said Nxasana.
The team has grown remarkably. “We are getting social media reactions and direct messages from coaches saying we have inspired high school rugby girls to be more confident and crave to play for senior teams,” said the Manager, Nxasana.
- Selected for the USSA tournament
The University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament is a tournament where players are selected to represent universities in South Africa.
The season ended well for the team as they were the second team in the country to make it to the USSA tournament. They played their last match of the season on the 3rd of October and won third place, bringing home a trophy.
“The team displayed high performance . . . and managed to make it to the semi-finals, which boosted our confidence and was a big elevation for us. We worked extremely hard to raise the UJ name,” said the team’s captain, Malebadi.