A dedicated work ethic and an effective support system have seen the University of Johannesburg women’s rugby team making a major impact on the sport.
The squad have a number of national players in their ranks, with several others on the fringe of recognition at the highest level.
Team manager Tumi 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,” said Leseke.
“We have access to biokinetics staff as well as physios in order to aid recovery processes when players get injured.
“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.
Besides the international players who have come through their ranks, 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.
“The only tournament we could look forward to was the USSA sevens event.
“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.
“The number of ladies we have filtered through our system and who have made it for national team selection has grown. This includes the SA Students team and the Blitzboks at an U20 and senior level.”
The UJ team won the inaugural Jozi women’s league and will attend the club championships in Cape Town, said Leseke.
“We are also current holders of the Imbokodo women’s sevens tournament, which we host annually. It is now in its third year and we are hoping to attract even more teams this time.
“We came third in the USSA sevens last year, narrowly missing out on making it to the final.
“Recently the ladies played in the Golden Lions sevens tournament in which we came second, losing out to a golden try in extra time.”