PMB youngster sponsored to join Welsh premier league club

2011-11-11 00:00

EDENDALE-born-and-bred Maritzburg Varsity first XV lock forward Chris Ndlovu is set to embark on a journey that many rugby players can only dream about.

South African Rugby Union (Saru) exchange programme co-ordinator Richard de Jager told The Witness yesterday that Ndlovu has been given an opportunity to play rugby in Wales as part of Saru’s exchange programme.

“It creates an opportunity for a promising player like Chris to play in an environment where he can grow as a player and an individual,” said De Jager.

Said Ndlovu while readying himself for the trip yesterday,“It is a wonderful chance for me to experience rugby and life in another part of the world and I am grateful for the support and faith shown in me by so many people.”

The programme will see Ndlovu playing for Welsh Premier League club Tonmawr from now until March, alongside another SA recipient, Vincent Gwavu. The club will pay all Ndlovu’s living and medical expenses.

“Chris will receive significant exposure as many of the games are televised as well as being on BBC Radio,” said Tonmawr director of rugby Chris O’Callaghan.

“It is also an opportunity for Chris to play in a different climate and culture and in different conditions,” De Jager said.

De Jager, originally from Pietermaritzburg himself, said Sport and Recreation South Africa and UK Sport, in partnership with Saru, are involved in an intergovernmental programme set up by the respective sports departments to foster the bilateral relationship. The two governments have funded the programme.

“Chris came through the Midlands Development Programme and was a student at the Midlands Rugby Academy [MRA], so we are very excited and proud of his achievement,” said Midlands Rugby Sub-Union president Piet Herbst.

Pietermaritzburg businessman Paul Trimborn of Trimborn Agencies has been sponsoring Ndlovu since his development days at the MRA — a substantial amount over the years.

“Steve Botha [former MRA manager and head coach] asked me to get involved and it’s a case of helping a sportsman just as people helped me in my playing days,” said Trimborn, a former Natal cricket and hockey player. “It also proves that Maritzburg has got the talent and hopefully more business people will get involved so that we can produce more players like Chris Ndlovu.”

Botha, now heading Maritzburg College’s rugby programme, coached Ndlovu during the two years the lanky lock forward spent at the MRA. “If anyone deserves this opportunity, it’s Chris,” he said.

“He puts in huge effort and his progress and talent as a player is even more remarkable when one considers he only started playing rugby in Grade 10 while at school in Edendale and doesn’t come from a rugby culture.

Ndlovu reached the final trials with the Blue Bulls in recent seasons.

“Chris was also awarded a bursary at the Investec Rugby Academy, which developed him further, and he’s done so well for Maritzburg Varsity in the Varsity Shield this year,” Botha added.

An outstanding lineout jumper, it would not be unreasonable to surmise that not even the sky is the limit for this likeable, humble product of Edendale and Pietermaritzburg.

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