Taking rugby back to townships

SA Rugby Legends representative Dale Santon launched the Vuka tournament involving 64 schools in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Santon, along with other former Boks and members of the Legends group John Allan, Errol Tobias and Rob Louw, were in attendance at Spine Road High School in Mitchells Plain where all the schools were handed kit for the tournament.

Eight teams in eight zones will play each other on Wednesday afternoons, at the end of which eight representative teams – known as the Mega 8 – will be selected by the zonal committees. After the knockout stages  the final of the Legends Cup will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Western Province versus Boland fixture at Newlands on 3 October.

Santon noted that many of the youths haven’t had the chance to play organised sport, which has led to numerous social problems.

‘This project represents true transformation,’ said Sandton. ‘It’s about taking 1400 kids away from the streets and gangs and putting them onto a sports field. Imagine there is a boy, who will now have a coach, kit, fixtures and may even play at Newlands in front of a big crowd.’

Gerald Njengele, head of WP Schools rugby, noted the pride associated with the handing over of jerseys.

‘It was critical each school was given their own jersey, with their own colours and school name on it,’ he said. ‘We want them to have a sense of pride in their institutions – they do not have this at the moment. This is also flows into WP Rugby as we are creating pools of players and supporters in relatively new areas.’

It is hoped this initiative will filter into other sports.

‘Probably the greatest legacy we will leave behind will be the committees in each zone,’ said Barry O’Mahony of UCT Rugby Football Club. ‘There is no reason why they can’t organise fixtures in other codes. What we have learnt from Ismail Teladia, who is a driving force on our committee, is that extra curricular activities in these schools are all but dead.

‘Our goal is to get teachers back coaching teams and get many of the rugby loving parents back and involved directly with the schools.’