UKZN Impi training hard for Fort Hare

2013-01-09 00:00

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus has been given an historic opportunity to officially host the start of a South African Rugby Union (Saru) season for the first time, when the UKN Impi take on the University of Fort Hare on Monday, January 28, in the opening round of the Varsity Shield competition.

The 4.30 pm kick-off at the Peter Booysen Sports Park Rugby Stadium off Golf Road in Scottsville will see the opening encounter of Saru’s 2013 season attended by the national rugby authority’s top officials and will be televised live on SuperSport 1.

UKZN Impi executive committee member Mark Schulze told The Witness yesterday that the Impi squad had been hard at work in two training camps over the festive season and would be well prepared for the challenge.

However, Schulze said that the University of Fort Hare, the alma mater of South African icons Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, has a well-established rugby culture with a rich history. A fully professional set-up, the sport at Fort Hare, which is situated in the town of Alice in the Eastern Cape, is a shining light of genuine rugby development.

“Fort Hare will provide a tough challenge for our boys, having beaten the UKZN Impi twice in 2012,” said Schulze.

Traditionally, these encounters have been exciting, closely-fought affairs where no quarter is asked or given, and the January 28 clash should be no exception.

Schulze also made a passionate plea for the KZN Midlands rugby public, young and old, to make the effort to support the UKZN Impi against Fort Hare.

“The UKZN students only return from the Christmas vacation in February, so the Impi will be relying heavily on alumni and local rugby supporters to provide that vital home-ground advantage,” said Schulze, the former PMB Varsity first XV scrumhalf.

Cheerleaders, traditional dancers, an entertaining master of ceremonies allied to an energetic DJ playing rousing hit songs will ensure that an electric vibe complements the “Rugby that Rocks” theme.

“As the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus we are going all-out to provide an afternoon of pure entertainment for the whole family,” said UKZN sports officer for rugby, Reggie Smith. “In association with the Jes Foord Foundation, UKZN Rugby will also utilise the day to promote the ‘Rugby against Rape’ campaign that is close to the team’s hearts, and the guys are hoping for significant support for this noble cause.”

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