Soweto establishes new union

Date published: January 15 2015

Soweto Rugby Club has taken the first steps in what it feels will correct rugby imbalances that were created in the past by establishing an independent rugby union.

The Soweto Rugby Union (SRU) was conceptualised during the Soweto Sports Indaba of 2013 with the registration of the union as a proprietary limited company (Pty Ltd) in September 2014.

The new union has yet to inform the sport’s relevant governing bodies of its existence as one of the main driving factors for what would represent South African rugby’s 15th union lies in inefficiencies of the current governing structures.

SRU has confirmed that its senior team has been invited to compete in Argentina later this year adding that they have made great strides in the recruitment of coaches that will aid their primary objective of developing the game of rugby at grassroots level.

Coaching staff and recruited players will be revealed when the SRU hosts its official launch later this year.

The SRU will be based in Soweto where it will make use of existing infrastructure to develop a team that it hopes, will over time be able to compete with rugby’s elite clubs.

Apart from the senior team SRU also boasts two Under-21 sides, an Under-18 squad as well as a junior development program which caters for Under-13s, Under-11s and Under-9s with six primary schools forming part of their talent pool.

“We have enquiries from other Gauteng and North West townships with keen interest to have their school’s system joining the SRU,” said Soweto Rugby Union secretary Zola Ntlokoma.

Ntlokoma added that the SRU has been in talks with other clubs that form part of the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) and that the thought of moving away from a system that “will never cater for development at a satisfactory level” is very appealing to many of the administrators.

He did, however, clarify that the establishment of the SRU does not mean that Soweto Rugby Club will cease to exist – adding that the club is still affiliated to the GLRU and that it could compete in tournaments like the Pirates Grand Challenge.

“We want to show that South Africa’s rural areas and townships are ready for the future development and growth of rugby, and that we will deliver performances that will not just be a moment in time but a journey into the future leaving a lasting legacy,” Ntlokoma said.

“SRU was formed because of a serious need to address the imbalances caused by the injustices and dishonesty by implementing the 1992 National Sports Unity Talks.”

Ntlokoma insisted that through the work conducted by the SRU, transformation objectives of the National Sports Ministry and the South African Rugby Union (SARU) would be bolstered in years to come.

Both Saru and the GLRU were contacted for comment, but both governing bodies said it had no knowledge of this latest development.

Ntlokoma believes that many township based clubs would make similar transitions over time as he feels that Saru has, over the years, failed miserably in implementing steps that ensure the national team, for example, becomes more representative of the country.

“How can we support a system which has used ‘black’ faces to legitimize an unsavoury and duplicitous history? How can we support a system which has even taken away the simple joy of viewing a rugby match from the masses (from SABC to Supersport)?,” he asked.

As far as sponsorship of this venture is concerned, he said that SRUs would remain focussed on its goal of developing rugby in rural areas and that a corporate institution that shares their views would join forces in due course.

By Michael Mentz