Girls showcase their rugby skills during the second round of U16

2014-07-10 00:00

GLENWOOD High School was treated to some enterprising running rugby, matched by vociferous victory whoops during the second round of matches at the U16 Girls’ National Rugby Week ­yesterday.

With matches played on Monday, yesterday and tomorrow this week, all 16 teams were in action, playing matches of 25 minutes a half and refereed by women, some of the whistle-blowers past South African players giving back to the game.

These girls play interesting rugby and it’s quite tiring just watching them. There is not much kicking done, the players preferring to run the ball, keep it in hand and go through the phases.

Having won their first match against Griquas on Monday, the KwaZulu-Natal side were drawn against the strong Border outfit and were never in the game, the final whistle heralding a heavy 45-0 loss. Despite the loss, team manager Cynthia Field looked for the positives.

“The fixtures are determined after each day’s play and as we won our first game, we were given Border. We were at the mercy of the selection panel and our side had a tough first half with some structure shown in the second period,” she said.

Field also highlighted the lack in depth in the KZN team, comparing it to the well organised system in the Border region. “Border has a big girls’ infrastructure when it comes to rugby, with leagues at U13 and U15 level,” she said. “We only start at U16 level and thus have no players coming through the ranks.

“At the end of June, we were told to get a team together and there is no way we can be a force with that type of arrangement. However, there are ways forward and ways to improve ahead of next year’s tournament,” she said.

Field’s thoughts were echoed by Pete Smith, CEO of KZN Rugby Union, an interested spectator yesterday. “To be honest, I am surprised by the standard of play and having seen what school leagues do for girls’ rugby in Western Province and Border, our task as a union is to introduce the same in our province,” he said.

“Another challenge is introducing the game in areas that have no tradition of rugby and generally overcoming the negative attitude to women’s rugby that is seen in some circles. Our task is to put women’s rugby on the map in KwaZulu-Natal.”

It’s something that should be addressed sooner rather than later, with women’s sevens being given a trial run at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. On an international scale, South Africa needs to have a competitive side with an abundance of depth and resources.

Returning to the field, the Blue Bulls, Griffons, Eastern Province and Western Province enjoyed strong wins, while Boland just sneaked home against the Pumas and Limpopo did likewise against Griquas. While the intensity remained on the field, the victory celebrations of the winning teams — shrieking, jumping, dancing and screaming — added a new dimension to rugby.

One sad aspect of the tournament is a lack of sponsors. Without Saru and the Department of Sport and Recreation’s backing, the week would not have happen, and the girls would not have had the opportunity to showcase their talent and love of the sport.

“We need support in all aspects, from officials to coaches to crowd support,” said Debra Griffiths, the Saru co-ordinator of the week. “We need to move in the communities and give the game the attention it deserves.”

Action continues tomorrow at Glenwood with the final round of fixtures and the closing ceremony.

U16 Girls’ National Week Results (day two)

Eastern Province 29 Leopards 0

Blue Bulls 49 KZN XV 0

Boland 12 Pumas 10

Griffons 51 Free State 5

Border 45 KZN 0

Border Country Districts 20 Golden Lions 7

Western Province 31 SWD 5

Griquas 12 Limpopo 14

Tomorrow’s Fixtures

9 am: Griffons v Border CD (Dixons); KZN XV v Free State (Bassons)

10 am: Pumas v Leopards (Dixons); Griquas v Blue Bulls (Bassons)

11 am: KZN v Boland (Dixons); Limpopo v Golden Lions (Bassons)

Noon: SWD v Eastern Province (Dixons)

1 pm: Western Province v Border (Dixons)

2 pm: Awards and closing ceremony

Meanwhile, matches continue today in the U18 boys Coca Cola Academy Week in Worcester after a rest day yesterday.

Border v Limpopo

Eastern Province v Blue Bulls

Boland v Lions

WP v KZN

SA Lsen v Griquas CD

Boland XV v Red Falcons

Pumas v Griffons.

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