It’s been almost a year since the University of Cape Town (UCT) established its very own women’s rugby team in a bid to shift the common perception that rugby is a “man’s game” and to foster a love for the sport among female students.
Since then UCT Swifts have managed to do just that, even though the journey to establish the side has been challenging and littered with stumbling blocks, according to team captain Sikhumbuzo Muchenje.
But despite the setbacks, the team have established a firm footing and continue to perform reasonably well.
With an increase in interest when it comes to women’s rugby nationally, the need to nurture the sport at grassroots, secondary and tertiary level is fundamental, said Muchenje.
“Developing the sport on all levels should be an ongoing process. Often most girls stop playing in university or college because there are no opportunities there and they get lost in the system.”
“Developing the sport on all levels should be an ongoing process Often most girls stop playing in university or college because there are no opportunities there and they get lost in the system.”
She added that the Swifts aim to change that for UCT. When the team was established last year, initial uptake was slow. But after a solid marketing strategy to the campus community, and commitment from a handful of potential players, news of UCT’S female rugby side spread.
Today the team even attracts international visiting students.
“In the beginning things were tough and we received very little interest. But after the second semester there was a turnaround and participation picked up,” she said.
When player numbers increased, overall interest grew. This also meant that the Swifts could participate in their first intervarsity tournament under the guidance and mentorship of coaches Karriem Rasdien and Ebrahim Allie, from Western Province Rugby.
Despite their development side status, they performed “quite well” there.
Muchenjeʼs primary goal as captain is to grow the side even further, so their standard can be maintained and improved. She is encouraging more full-time UCT students to sign up.
Currently, she said. uptake remains limited to foreign semester-abroad students who return to their home countries at the end of the semester, leaving a gap in the team.
“Together we can change that and the overall perception of [women’s] rugby in South Africa. But we need ambassadors. We also understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Right now, we want the UCT community to know we value diversity in skill, culture and enjoyment, and place emphasis on discipline and sportsmanship.
“We trust that women’s rugby at UCT will become the biggest stride the UCT rugby club will make in 2019 and beyond,” she said.
Plans for the 2019 season have not been finalised, but Muchenje is hopeful that the Swifts will be participating in a few exciting leagues.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.