Sat 14 Aug 2021 | 12:30

Rugby Champs opener shines spotlight on EP rugby

Rugby Champs opener shines spotlight on EP rugby
Sat 14 Aug 2021 | 12:30
Rugby Champs opener shines spotlight on EP rugby
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SPOTLIGHT: The build-up to South Africa’s Rugby Championship opener in Port Elizabeth has highlighted the plight of the game in the Eastern Cape.

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The Eastern Cape has produced some of South Africa’s top rugby players – which includes World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi,  Makazole Mapimpi and Bok backline coach Mzwandile Stick.

This weekend Aphelele Fassi, who also hails from the Eastern Cape, is another player who will join the list of heroes when he makes his first Rugby Championship appearance against Los Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.

While Saturday’s clash is certainly a good omen for the province, the ongoing dire state of the game in the Eastern Cape is a huge blemish on the game in South Africa.

Unlike the other unions, the Eastern Province Rugby Union have been struggling to establish itself as a consistent and performing brand at the top end of the game.

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Speaking to reporters, Stick revealed that giving players opportunities should be the first priority.

“I am who I am because of the Eastern Cape,” Stick said.

“They gave me the platform and opportunity.

“From my side, it is always nice to see players from the Eastern Cape succeeding.

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“We know there is a lot of potential and  – without going too deep into the boardroom stuff – for me, we have to look after the talent and continue giving the youngsters an opportunity.”

Stick added that there should be sufficient development systems at the school level.

“We know we have good schools like Selbourne, Dale College, Grey PE, Daniel Pienaar [and many more],” Stick said, adding: “Those schools have a rich rugby history, so we don’t doubt that there is a lot of potential in the Eastern Cape and they will be around for the next 500 years.

“And in the rural areas, where Mapimpi comes from, there is a lot of talent and it is a matter of giving them a chance.

“I know they need proper opportunities and support.

“The best thing to do is to put in proper development systems.”

@rugby365com

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