The arrival of the Great Britain and Irish Student Team in Cape Town tonight is the start of big things for rugby league in the Western Cape. Two years ago the Western Cape was identified as a key development area for rugby league, and the first international match in almost a decade shows the commitment that has led to this significant international match.
In the run up to this weekend’s match, South African Rugby League had to start at the bottom with coaching development programs in 2011. The reigning National Club Champions, TUKS Rugby League came down for a friendly match, as has the Middelburg Tigers from Mpumalanga. The national coaching team also ran workshops and training camps in the past two years. This concentrated effort by SARL has led to several players making Student Squad to the 2013 RLIF Student World Cup, as well as several players in the Youth Squad to the 2014 Commonwealth Championships. In November this year the Rhino’s also face the British Community Lions, and the Western Cape is sure to have several players in the senior team.
There has also been a drive to develop the level of coaching, with a Rugby Football League (United Kingdom) Delegation coming down in 2013 for a week to do training workshops. This is being followed up in 2014 with a National Rugby League (Australia) led coaching program starting in October 2014. All of this bodes well for the Western Cape.
“We are extremely confident that the continued efforts by both SARL and the WPRLA will lead to a resurgence of rugby league in the Western Cape. The province is key as it has tremendous potential for players of all races and ages to play the game at several levels. As a Board we have made a commitment to develop the sport and region, lifting communities and making a difference in people’s lives, not only on the sporting field, but also at home”; Kobus Botha, President of SARL, was quoted during a training camp held at Hamilton’s Rugby Club recently with the National Coaching Staff.
Fanie Bredenhann, National Director of Coaching and Development, was equally upbeat: “The Western Cape players offer a different aspect to traditional rugby league. They are very good runners, and excel in the free flowing nature of league. I am sure that with the continued development of the sport, and an extended investment into the development of coaches and match officials, we will see plenty of players from the Western Cape appearing in the national teams.”