Soweto Rugby tourney promises brighter future

2012-05-05 19:35

‘We are not looking at this tournament as a black thing . . . we want to see it grow’

For the first time since 2006, ­the Soweto Rugby Tournament took centre-stage at the Multi-Purpose Centre in Bram Fischerville last week.

The tournament was staged in celebration of the Soweto Rugby Club’s 20th anniversary.

However, not all that is well ends well, and upstarts Eye of the Tiger rugby academy shook off a slow start to rout the hosts 41-5 in an scintillating display of running rugby, with four of the tries in their 22m area in the final.

The result left the Soweto Rugby Club coach and former Springbok Kaya Malotana in tears as his club disintegrated against the smaller but more incisive opponent.

The club’s secretary, Zola ­Ntlokoma, said that rugby was the winner, especially in a township where football holds sway. He added that the aim of the tournament was development rather than results.

“We needed to give development an opportunity,” said ­Ntlokoma. “This is something that is not done on a regular basis. If we don’t give the youngsters a platform in such tournaments, where are they going to gauge themselves to see if they are ready to play at the higher levels?

“Rugby is difficult in a sense that you cannot always pit strong and established teams against developing sides as they’ll crush them and break their spirits. This is the first year and we have achieved our goal. We will try to add stronger teams in coming years.”

Malotana, who played for the Boks in the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Britain, where the team claimed bronze, said the tournament was well received.

His hope was for the tourney to grow to a point where it could be a talent-scouting focal point.

The tournament also featured an under-13 section on the first day, something Malotana said was a great initiative.

“It was really good to see so many little kids running around here and watching the final. These kids are very aware of the sport and they could take it up. Having the under-13 tournament is crucial because without it, in seven or eight years’ time, we will not be having any senior sides.

“We are not looking at this ­tournament as a black thing, we want to grow it to be fully inclusive. We want to see teams represented by white kids playing in the tournament and we want to see the calibre of the tournament grow to a point where the Springbok coach will think it’s worthwhile to come and watch because there might be one player that could come out of here.”

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