THE Border U15 rugby team travelled last week to Johannesburg to take part in the SA Legends Iqhawe Week, hosted at Bill Jardine Stadium.
The tournament, under the banner of the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA), paved the way to tackle development at grassroots level, focusing on young players and disadvantaged communities, aiming to uplift players from non-model C schools and grant them the opportunity to compete at the highest level.
Border took 23 players. Komani was represented by KwaKomani Comprehensive pupil Avesimthanda Mfengu, with Rose Roji the skills coach and Maxwell Levine the team manager. All 14 unions were represented at the mega tourney. Legends such as Breyton Paulse, Pieter Muller, Dale Sandton, Stefan Terblanche, Khaya Malotana, Gcobani Bobo and a host of others attended. Current Lions player Courtnall Skosan also made an appearance on the final day.
Border’s first match was against Griquas. It was a tight one with nerves seemingly getting the better of the team. Handling errors and poor decision making at crucial times paved the way for the team’s downfall.
Border had good patches but could not convert them into scoring opportunities. Griquas won the match 3-0 via a penalty. The second match was against Free State Cheetahs and Border came out firing on all cylinders. They dominated on all fronts, with the forwards showing a vast improvement, complemented by the lightning quick backline, which caused all sorts of problems for the opposition. Border won the match comfortably 36-0.
Border’s final match was against the host, Golden Lions.
The opening exchanges were tight, with both teams playing the territorial game. Lions took a 3-0 lead via a penalty. Border responded well with a converted try to lead 7-3. Pressure from the home fans seemed to frustrate the Border boys.
Lions pounced on a mistake by the Border wing to score an unconverted try to lead 8-7. After Border pinned the hosts back in the later stages of the first half, they got a penalty, which the flyhalf coolly slotted home and Border led 10-8 at the break.
The second half was another tight affair. Border battled to break a stubborn Lions rear-guard. The opportunities were limited as the Lions put more pressure at the gain line. Lions capitalised on another Border mistake late in the game to score a converted try and win 15-10.
The tournament was a great experience for the boys leading up to next year’s Grant Khomo Craven Week. It proved again that there is raw talent that needs to be unearthed. Border had a strong showing and ended the tournament in the top eight.