Women’s rugby at the University of Johannesburg continues to rise, with a number of the club’s players in line for selection for the national teams.
Not only are they providing players at the highest level, the team have become contenders for a number of titles in recent years.
UJ team manager Tumi Leseke said a dedicated work ethic and massive support from varsity structures had seen their rugby players start to make a major impact on the sport.
The squad have a number of national players in their ranks, with several others on the fringe of higher recognition.
Besides the international players, Leseke said women’s rugby had grown across the board.
“In 2013 we could barely field a team of 15 and had a total of five women in the gym programme as well as having only four girls in the provincial set-up.
“In 2019 we have doubled that number of players, as well as having eight of our members in the provincial structures as players or management.”
Among the players to excel, she said, was Voice Ndou, who went to the HSBC Sevens in Dubai in December and will represent the SA Students at the World Student Games in Italy this year.
“Our newest player is Catharina Jacobs, who is touring Europe with the Blitzboks squad and played in the Centrale Sevens tournament in France last week.
“We also have another national member in Ayanda Malinga, who has represented the Blitzboks and is now a regular in our team.
“The U20 Springbok camp is being held this week and our newest recruits, Nthabiseng Ncalane and Luzetha Zulu, are there to show the coaching staff exactly what they’re made of.”
Leseke said many aspects had contributed to the growth of rugby at UJ, not least of them the commitment of the players and the array of support staff in place to ensure all their needs are met.
“The university has played a huge role in the system we have put in place,” she added.
“We also pride ourselves in creating and enhancing pure athletes with the help of our sports science department, notably the team’s own sports scientist Liphiwe Nxasana.
“She goes above and beyond for the girls, creating workout programmes that not only enhance the players’ performances but which set them apart from the rest.”
Leseke also highlighted the role play played by coach Mbuyiselo Siqebengu, who has experience of sevens rugby at the highest level.
She added that the system worked because of the backing of all the relevant university departments.
“Our success is not a fluke but a representation of the hard work we put in, day in and day out.
“It is testament to the fact that when you put your full support behind a women’s team they will show you results.”