(Photo Credit: Dries Beetge)
The 2019 edition of the Iqhawe Week – South Africa’s premier development rugby tournament for Under-15 boys – begins in Paarl on Monday, 23 September, where a whole new pool of young rugby talent will explode onto the field.
The annual tournament was jointly put together by the SA Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) and SA Rugby, to bring U15 teams from the 14 South African Rugby unions together. While this exciting tournament has been to the Western Cape before, this is the first time all 14 unions will be playing in the province in the Iqhawe Week.
The Iqhawe Week is an opportunity for newly discovered young rugby talent to shine on the field. Many of the players come from non-traditional rugby-playing schools and rural, underprivileged areas.
The Tournament isn’t just a talent showcase that allows these young players to get noticed, it’s also a chance to win life-changing educational aid. The Player of the Tournament will be awarded a full-time bursary and scholarship at a traditional rugby-playing school, while donors will provide further academic assistance and support for other top performers.
The Iqhawe Week is part of SARLA’s broader mandate to achieve true transformation and social upliftment in rugby by creating development opportunities at the grassroots level. SARLA’s other ongoing programmes include the VUKA Rugby Development Programme and the Legends Cup.
2018’s tournament saw 16 top Iqhawe Week players selected to represent their unions in the 2019 Under-16 SA Rugby Grant Khomo Week in White River, Mpumalanga – one of SA Rugby’s most prestigious events for young, up-and-coming talent, where many players are earmarked for a long-term future in the sport.
39 players who have been part of SARLA’s ongoing development programmes took to the field in White River this year. And with the valued help and support of SA Rugby, this year’s Iqhawe Week Team of the Tournament will go on to play in the U16 SA Rugby Grant Khomo Week in 2020.
SARLA CEO Stefan Terblanche said, “Every year, we see new talent developing right before our eyes at the Iqhawe Week. We’re so proud of the impact we’ve been able to have on these young people’s lives through opportunities in sport. We hope that the positivity and spirit we see at Iqhawe Week will cause a chain reaction in communities throughout the country, uplifting generations to come.”