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Growing the game from the ground up: rural rugby development in South Africa

| June 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

In March 2012, St Dunstan’s College, in Benoni in Gauteng, in the presence of the minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, signed a partnership with Unity Secondary School in Daveyton. The partnership was supported by the St Dunstan’s College Foundation.

It was necessary to sign this agreement so that all the stakeholders could agree on set clear parameters with regard to sharing teaching and learning resources and skills in a number of areas. Within two years, the project had evolved into a multidisciplinary and integrated programme, involving:
• revision and teaching support in accounting, economics and English
• a rugby academy
• study skills courses for grades 11 and 12 students
• information technology training for teachers
• computer hardware upgrades for Unity Secondary School
• provision of classroom teaching tools to Unity Secondary School
• financial support for Grade 11 Unity students to attend a cultural festival
• the supply of textbooks and study guides.

Realisations about rugby

The success of the partnership meant that at the beginning of 2015, a decision was taken to start a project to build the game of rugby from a grassroots level in the Daveyton township area.

The project was the brainchild of Jaco Coetzer, head of rugby at St Dunstan’s. After doing a great deal of research, Coetzer realised that a lot of “red tape” and politics made rugby development a struggle in the townships and informal settlements in the area. The relationship St Dunstan’s had with Unity Secondary School in Daveyton confirmed that there was a thirst for rugby in disadvantaged areas, despite the lack of structure and funding..

Coetzer formed a partnership with Raymond Chiloane, who runs the Daveyton School of Soccer, a non-profit organisation.1 Chiloane, who is passionate about bringing sport to children in disadvantaged areas, shared his contacts and knowledge of the community with Coetzer, who also asked the Department of Education and the Ekurhuleni municipality for assistance.

Coetzer’s programme attracted the attention of the community and the Hino Valke Rugby Union. This club assisted Coetzer to fine-tune a model for capacity building in rugby.

A sustainable programme with tons of support

With the support of the University of Johannesburg, Living Ball,5 the Spar supermarket chain, Pam Golding Properties,6 Valke Rugby Union and the Department of Education, the Vuttas were able to showcase the talent of the players in a game played on 26 March 2016 between the Daveyton Invitational XV and the Tembisa Invitational XV, in the St Dunstan’s Easter Sports Festival.7 This was an excellent opportunity for the players to experience playing in front of a live crowd and then go back to their community and grow the game from within.

Says Coetzer, “With the ball finally rolling and after a lot of time and effort, the Daveyton Rugby Development Programme is now proud to be part of the South African Rugby Legends programme,8 and we will be launching a league system with rural schools in the following townships: Daveyton, Etwatwa, Tembisa, Tsakane and Sedibeng.

“The schools will take part in a round-robin league. They will
be playing for a medal placement in eight districts. The best
players out of these teams will then be selected to play for their district teams.

“The district teams will then play for a Legends Cup and the
best players will be selected to play for a provincial team that will compete in a National Iqhawe Week in October.9”

Always rooting for rugby

Coetzer believes firmly that the Daveyton Rugby Development
Programme has been successful because of its simple underlying
philosophy: “We empower the coaches and they empower the players. No players get taken out of the community. They always stay within the community and in this way the mass participation will develop more and more talent.”

Coetzer says: “It’s mostly a lonely fight out there. There are
so many negative factors that block this type of development.
“But I made a promise to the community on the first day I went into the townships. I’m not ever going to give up the idea of as many South African kids playing rugby as possible.”


1. See, for example: Soccer.
2. See:
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4. See: section=5&language=en.
5. See:
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7. See:
8. See:
9. See: host-national-u15-tournament.

Category: Winter 2016

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