By Andrew Matyiba
In rural areas throughout the Eastern Cap, people are still trying very hard to maintain the sport culture, particularly rugby, but with a sponsor in place, they could rise high.
Only those players that apply their trades in the “Model C” schools have a chance of progressing further with their rugby and cricket careers nowadays and they have a better chance of going on to play for their country.
Cricket is not on everybody’s lips nowadays, as compared to the 70s and 80s, perhaps due to the scarcity of training fields and definitely a sponsor.
It seems that those that are still in this gentleman’s sport are the ones where it has been played in the family, by their brothers and fathers, and so keeping with the family culture.
In areas like Mdantsane, East London and Port Elizabeth the integration of rugby seemed to have limited, if not crippled, the following from the masses.
Rugby used to be the talk of town, with lots of rugby teams playing every weekend and with huge numbers of spectators.
In Mdantsane, players wanted to be selected to represent Mdantsane Rugby Union (Mdaru).
From Mdaru you could be selected for Border Rugby, which also included players from East London, King Williams Town and Queenstown.
From the Border team, a player could be selected for the Springboks and represent South Africa, but the selection procedure was made to be very hard for our black people to achieve that during the apartheid days. Some were just selected to represent blacks-only South African team.
Those who participated in those teams finally did receive their green jackets after some time of fighting to be recognised and honoured, with some of them having long retired from this sport. They were awarded with these green jackets in the late 1990s from “Springbok” rugby matches they played in the early 1970s.
The government’s Sport and Culture, working with municipalities, are working hard to bring back the sport to the people in their respective areas.
Availability of training fields and sponsors are, for now, the missing link that would help bring back the glorious sport days and fulfil the player’s dreams and goals in the process.