A feast of rugby is lined up at DHL Newlands this Saturday when two local tournament finals take place as the curtain-raiser to the DHL Stormers’ finalSuper Rugby clash of 2013 against the Bulls at 19h10.
The ground-breaking Vuka tournament, founded and run by the South African Rugby Legends Association, sees four teams from the Cape Flats region of the Western Cape play for the Legends Cup in two age-group finals for U15s and U19s at 16h00 and 17h15, respectively.
The Stormforce Highlanders from Atlantis will take on the Hi-Fi Corporation Stallions from Mitchell’s Plain South in the U15 Final (16h00), with Atlantis’s Stormforce Highlanders taking on the Richmark Cobras from the Elsieriver/Ravensmead region in the U19 Final (17h15).
Now in its fifth year, the Vuka tournament sees schools from previously disadvantaged areas in the Cape Flats participate in a rugby programme that not only provides them with the opportunity to participate in the sport at school level but the chance to compete against other schools, reviving the tradition of schools rugby in the area.
“Our initial aim was to provide a programme that would help develop or ‘awaken’ rugby in these areas and grow the pool of talent that comes from here,” said SARLA CEO Stefan Terblanché.
“We, as an organisation of former rugby players, also wanted to give something back to the game and one opportunity we saw was to set up this project in an area that needed support, and to also help keep our youth off the streets and away from the harsh temptations that exists in some areas.”
There are now 85 schools participating in this initiative from Grassy Park to Delft, Langa to Phillipi. The tournament has the support and assistance of several key organisations – including SARU, the Western Province Rugby Football Union and the Laureaus Sport for Good Foundation.
The schools programme begins early in the year when all Vuka schools coaches, match referees and medics participate in pre-season International Rugby Board and Boksmart accredited courses. The tournament is used as a training programme for rugby referees in the Western Cape.
Vuka Rugby runs over two terms with matches taking place on Wednesday afternoons.
Vuka Rugby is also an opportunity for talent identification of standout players and, to support this, top players from the schools are selected and placed into zonal teams to compete for the Legends Cup. The tournament for this takes place over three weekends, with the finals this Saturday the highlight for these teams.
A provincial side will be selected from the U15 teams who will go on to represent WP in the Legends Iqhawe week which will take place in September this year.
Saturday’s finals promises to showcase committed and passionate rugby and is worth the chance to see future stars in action.
The National Minister of Sport and Recreation the Honourable Mr Fikile Mbalula will be in attendance to watch the finals and to recognise the achievements of these youngsters and the Vuka programme. He is a big supporter of the development of grass root rugby in the country.
WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield, speaking ahead of the third-ever Vuka finals day at DHL Newlands, said: “The fact that these finals are the official curtain-raisers to a Super Rugby game gives further prominence to our support of Vuka Rugby.”