Star coach, amazing team

NO STOPPING THEM: Lungi Dube and the unbeaten Queen’s College U9A rugby team Picture: SUPPLIED

It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Those are the words of the greatest statesman this country has ever seen, Nelson Mandela, which still echo in the memories of many people around the world. Lungisani Dube bears testament to that and is living proof. He had to recreate himself, identify his cause and make history.

Lungi, who coaches at Queen’s College, has already been featured on SABC and in SA Rugby magazine for his exploits with the Queen’s U9A team, a team that has lost only one match in three years. There have been unbeaten seasons in 2017 and the heroics of a super 2019 season, when they only conceded seven points.

So, who is Mr Dube or Coach Dube as he is affectionally known to the Queenians? The 26-year-old mentor was born in nearby Makhanda (Grahamstown) and attended Graeme College where his rugby was ignited and where he played for the first rugby team for three years. He was selected for EP U19 which saw him earn a contract with South Western Districts under the tutelage of former EP Kings and current Springboks assistant coach, Deon Davids. Dube played in the glorious 2014 SWD U21 team in the Currie Cup competition, alongside Komani’s Andisa Ntsila, that went all the way to the final, only to lose to the EP Kings.

As happens in life, at a certain point and time one is faced with crossroads and has to take tough decisions, decisions that will map your future pathway. It was no different with the young man, as he had to choose between chasing the dream of pro rugby or concentrating on his studies. It was tough, taking his background into consideration. Raised by a single mom, Lungi was offered a contract by Western Province, but through his mentor, Pierre Jacobs, who was his first team coach at Graeme and is now first XV coach at Queen’s, advised him to take an internship at Queen’s College and study through a learnership programme.

The transition to Queen’s College in 2015 fitted like a glove, coming from Graeme which is also a traditional rugby school, the ethos of the school and surroundings were familiar. He started coaching the U12C team to success, losing only the final match of the season, when most of his players were promoted to the A and B sides. Of that team, seven players were promoted to the U13A side the following year. Tiamo Njali received the U13 player of the year award, with a full sport bursary for the high school. As a new coach Lungi had already proved his ability and was promoted to the U11B side.

It was in 2017, due to his hard work, that he was promoted to the U9A team which proved a masterstroke, as the team demolished every opponent in their unbeaten run, scoring more than 300 points, conceding less than 50. In 2018 the U9A team only lost one game, to Selborne away. 2019 was an incredible year for his U9A team. The aura and confidence of this team was unmatched. They were unbeaten going into their last match against Hudson Park, who themselves were unbeaten. For the very first time in the season, Queen’s conceded a try, but still beat Hudson 33-7.

Dube said: “In my years of coaching at Queen’s, that was by far the most talented side I’ve seen.” To nurture and guide such raw talent comes with challenges, but Mr Dube makes it look so easy. He said: “I am a firm believer in mentoring the kids on and off the field to earn their trust by showing interest in their lives. That gets the best out of the boys. Coaching at this level takes a lot of character and I love every minute of it.”

He was promoted with the same team this year to the U10A, after a good pre-season. Unfortunately everything was halted due to the coronavirus, but he is hopeful he can grow with the team to U13A.

Lungisani Dube is optimistic that there is a career in coaching and aspires one day to explore opportunities overseas. What makes him so successful at Queen’s is that he can relate to the players as he comes from a similar background. Lungi concluded by saying nothing beats hard work and his prayers are for everyone to stay positive in these challenging times.

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