The University of Johannesburg women’s team are ready to make a statement in the inaugural Varsity Sevens rugby tournament at the Pirates club in Johannesburg next month.
The event will be held on October 4 and 5 and will include a women’s category for the first time.
Team manager Tumi Leseke said the FNB UJ Imbokodo were keen to show what they could do after a year of extensive preparations.
In their training, she added that the student-athletes had been pushed “beyond what they themselves had even thought possible”.
“Physically we are where we need to be, but like our coach Mbuyiselo [Siqebengu] says, our strength lies in the team’s unity.
“That can take us further than we have ever been. If we can believe in each other, trust the process, stick to our structures and learn from our mistakes, the sky is only the beginning.
“The team is strong, structured and hungry to show off everything they have worked so hard for.”
Leseke said the small group would definitely make the competition that much tougher.
“But we are going in all guns blazing. Winning is always ideal but a top-two finish wouldn’t hurt either,” she said.
She added it was important to continue their development as a team.
“We do not want to be at the same level come this time next year. We want to be even better. The aim is to make professional women’s rugby a norm and move away from the image that it is just a hobby.
“We are treating this tournament as a measuring stick to see where we can improve and to mark how far we have come this year.”
The UJ squad has proved highly competitive in 2019, being runners-up in the Golden Lions sevens tournament.
They travelled to France for the Centrale sevens tournament, which was won by the Blitzbok Ladies.
“That tournament opened our eyes to how much more work we have to put in,” said Leseke. “We have since implemented those steps to improve each athlete.
“We have recently come third in the Jozi league.”
With a squad containing plenty of depth, Leseke said it would be interesting to see the performance of their latest recruit, Nthabiseng Ncalane, part of the national U20 team.
“We also have Voice Ndou, who was in the USSA team for the World Student Games, and Lesego Malebadi, a member of the WEPRU team [SA B side] who played in the Dubai HSBC sevens in 2018.”