The Delta Drone TuksWomensRugby7s team has received an invitation to play the Melrose Sevens tournament in Scotland next year.
The team’s head coach Riaan van der Merwe considers it to be quite an honour. Melrose is regarded as the birthplace of sevens rugby.
“As far as I am concerned, it is one of the most prestigious events on the international sevens rugby calendar. The first time the tournament was played was way back in 1883.
“Melrose Rugby Football Club needed to raise funds. It was Ned Haig who came up with the idea to shorten the game to 15 minutes. He also suggested that only seven players per side should take to the field. His reasoning was that it would make it possible to play eight games in an afternoon.
“The first tournament was hosted on 28 April 1883. Haig played for Melrose who defeated Gala in the final. In 2008, Haig and Melrose Rugby Football Club were honoured for their role in the creation of rugby sevens with induction to the IRB Hall of Fame,” Van der Merwe explained.
According to Van der Merwe, the Melrose invitation will undoubtedly help to keep the players incentivised.
“I have a real concern that our players might start to lose heart. Five months not playing is a long time. How do you stay motivated? We have never played in Scotland. Now at least there is a new challenge they can look forward to.”
Njabuliso Ngomane, who is a fifth-year medical student at the University of Pretoria, is one of the players who can’t wait to be back on the field to sidestep and dummy.
The diminutive player is a relative newcomer to sevens rugby. Two years ago she was still an avid triple jumper, but all changed one afternoon when she saw a few women running with a rugby ball. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.
She introduced herself to Van der Merwe. It did not take him long to convince her to put away her spikes and join them. She has never regretted her decision.
“Rugby sevens is to me such a free-spirited game. You get to express yourself physically … running your heart out … tackling your heart out. You can even scream your lungs out. What I also love is the competitiveness as well as the camaraderie.”
Van der Merwe has no hesitation in saying that Ngomane is all heart.
“What she lacks in size she makes up with pure guts. She proved it during last year’s USSA Tournament. The team had to play five games on one day. Njabuliso was in the thick of things during every minute, putting her body on the line time and again. Not surprisingly, she was totally ‘kaput’ at the end of it all. We needed to put her on a drip to aid her recovery. The next day she was back at it.”
As far as Ngomane is concerned, she was only doing what any good player would do that is to make sure that Tuks is victorious. Taking little bit of pain and strain is a small price to pay.
Article courtesy Wilhelm de Swardt/TuksSport Media