UKZN Impi’s Outstanding Performance Celebrated
UKZN hosted a banquet in honour of the UKZN Impi’s outstanding performance in winning the FNB Varsity Shield rugby tournament.The Impi beat Wits University 29-24 in the FNB Varsity Shield final, clinching their first ever Varsity Shield!
UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, congratulated the team for their ‘tremendous efforts’ and said he was ‘amazed at the pace at which you play the game’.
He said the University planned to harness sport strategically in the future, and was committed to ensuring that other sporting codes were also prioritised. ‘From a University point of view, I am definitely going to push sport at UKZN as a strategic asset of the Institution.'
‘We want to make sure that in a few years time, all our sporting codes are up there, competing with the best across the country,’ said van Jaarsveld.
Executive Director of Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, acknowledged the rugby players’ sporting prowess and contribution to the University.
Chalufu thanked the team players, officials, support staff, the Sharks and the South African Rugby Union (SARU) for their support and encouragement. He paid tribute to the Impi captain, Lwazi Ngcungama, and the head coach, Ryan Strudwick. He also thanked the CEO of the KZN Rugby Union (KZN RU) Mr Pete Smith, and the President of SA Rugby Union (SARU), Mr Oregan Hoskins, for their attendance at the banquet.
Smith congratulated the UKZN Impi on behalf of KZN RU and The Sharks; and commended the University for celebrating the successes of the rugby team.
Smith said Gary Gold, Head of the Cell C Sharks, had committed to supporting the UKZN Rugby team going forward as they were ‘an important part of KZN rugby and The Sharks.
‘The message from Kings Park is well done to the players, the team, the coaches,’ said Smith.
Hoskins, who is also the Vice-President of the International Rugby Board, said it was with ‘warm pride that I stand before this victorious team. Rugby has the ability to unite people’.
Referring to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Win by the Springboks, he said: ‘Rugby was part and parcel of making the transition from an apartheid society to a democratic society possible.’
A UKZN alumnus, Hoskins commended van Jaarsveld’s commitment to sport.
Ngcungama thanked everyone who had played a role in the team’s success, including the coaches, the health professionals, Chalufu, the Student Services Division, the Sports Union, UKZN’s Mark Bashe, Colin Van Heerden, the team sponsor from Truda Snacks and the cheerleaders. ‘This is the most memorable season of my life. Thank you for supporting me every step of the way.’
Strudwick, also an alumnus of UKZN, acknowledged Mr Mark Schulze for his endless efforts in trying to get the Sharks involved with the UKZN Impi and for convincing him (Strudwick) to take up the position of head coach for the Impi.
Strudwick advised the rugby players to also focus on their academics, saying: ‘If you don’t pass, you can’t play for the team.’ He encouraged the Impi to recruit more rugby players to strengthen the team.
Bashe, UKZN’s Manager of Student Health and Sports, compèred the event. He highlighted the Impi’s achievements, saying this was the first time the team had received seven out of nine Player that Rocks awards!
According to Mark Schulze, UKZN rugby players are making their mark on the sporting world. Chris de Beer, Marne Coetzee, Johan “Mees” Erasmus, Inno Radebe, Johan du Toit and Marius Louw have all featured for the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup in recent weeks, while Sanele Malwane, Matthew Mandioma, Adam Wessels and Ngcungama have been called up to the squad.
On a national level, Radebe was selected for the Varsity Dream Team, comprising top players chosen from all 13 Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield universities by the SARU national selectors. UKZN’s Ruan Kramer and Mzamo Majola are in the Junior Springboks squad currently preparing for the IRB U20 World Cup in Italy next month.
Meanwhile, Brandin Austin and Mark Barnard, both of whom play for Howard College, have been included in the SA Deaf Rugby squad for the series against Wales later this year.
PMB student Shayne Makombe played for the Zimbabwe Sevens team in the recent Hong Kong Sevens, and is now officially the first UKZN player to feature in the World Rugby Sevens and the Varsity Shield tournaments on the same weekend.