In a major coup for women’s rugby at NMMU, the Port Elizabeth varsity have been named hosts of the sixth University Sport South Africa (USSA) sevens tournament in September.
The decision was made after Melissa Awu, former rugby manager at the university, put forward a bid last year to the national body to stage the event in 2017.
Awu, who is also the development officer for USSA Rugby, felt it was a milestone for women’s rugby at the university and she was looking forward to managing this project on behalf of Madibaz rugby.
“We are paving the way for something that has not been done by women,” she said, referring to the fact that the tournament will be hosted largely by women.
“NMMU have hosted the men’s tournament in the past, but now it’s time to give space to the women to grow the sport.”
Awu, who joined the university in 2015 when women’s rugby was in its “infancy”, said the tournament would assist with the development of the code.
Although there were plans to take the tournament back to KwaZulu-Natal where it was hosted in the past, the Madibaz were able to meet all the requirements set out by the executive of USSA Rugby.
Tournament director Richard Janse van Rensburg said applicants had to present their bid a year in advance, followed by a site tour to ensure the facilities were up to standard.
Awu said the news served as an opportunity for both the players and the greater student body.
“Our students have so much potential and we wanted to provide them with an opportunity to explore talents they might not have thought they had.
“The event will open doors for student leadership and give them a platform to grow their skills.”
She said five students were involved in the local organising committee and that through opportunities such as these they hoped to empower them to become leaders.
Last year’s event, held at Tshwane University of Technology, was a steep learning curve for the Madibaz after they finished in the lower half of the log.