Rugby club continues with transformation

02 August 2004

The UCT Rugby Club has made huge strides in changing the once lily-white image of the sport at UCT in recent times. Last week, it took another few bounds.

At a special function that again sported a who's who of SA and local rugby, the club toasted three very special occasions. The first was to hand over jerseys, sponsored by Personal Trust International and Rugby 365, to Ubumbo Rugby Club, a black side that the UCT rugby club has partnered with and absorbed into its internal league. Ubumbo officially plays under the banner of the UCT rugby club. "Ultimately the partnership has a long-term goal of establishing the team as the top internal league side at UCT, and acting as a feeder of black talent to the UCT rugby club itself," explained UCT director of rugby, Spencer King.

On the same evening, the club also formalised an arrangement with Lagunya rugby club, a team combining players from Gugulethu and Nyanga and which competes in the Western Province third league. Players from Lagunya have been running a training programme with young school players from the two townships, with UCT providing coaches who lend a hand to their efforts. At last week's function, UCT and Lagunya officials inked a formal agreement, with Barry O'Mahony, a former UCT first team coach, stepping in as patron for the relationship. UCT club president Dr Cecil Moss also handed equipment, donated by UCT, to Lagunya chairperson Andile Kilani.

In the third of last week's celebrations, the UCT club also officially opened its new "room of excellence". Baptised "The Cage" (it is, after all, home to the UCT Tigers), the room is a revamped space in the clubhouse, set up with the financial support of the Nussbaum Foundation and Personal Trust International. The facility houses audiovisual equipment where players can view video footage from its matches, recorded by UCT sports scientist Dr Michele Boddington. It also boasts a new changing room, something in short supply at the club. "While the room we chose is not ideal, nevertheless it has made an enormous difference to the functioning of our first XV in particular," noted King.

Club vice-president John le Roux, who first mooted and then championed the establishment of such a venue, agrees. "I'd like to think we've already gathered some of the fruit of the room," he said, reviewing some good recent results.

A win over Tygerberg, a boogie side for UCT in recent years, over the past weekend would be another bountiful harvest, he added.

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