GEORGE NEWS - The odds were stacked against them, but the SWD u.13 team showed tremendous courage, tenacity, perseverance, skill and discipline to finish in the fourth overall position at the recent inter-provincial sevens rugby tournament in Bloemfontein.
Western Province won the tournament after beating the Lions in the finals. The Blue Bulls beat SWD 26-19 in the play-offs for third and fourth place.
The SWD put up a great fight in the semi-finals against the Lions, but a combination of jitters and fatigue led to mistakes, which the opponents used to their advantage to win 14-7.
The young Eagles won all their pool games on day one of the competition. The results were: beat Pumas 35-05; beat the Falcons 1
7-12; beat the Limpopo Blue Bulls 21-14 and beat Lions B in the quarter-finals 24-12.
Needless to say, SWD was the surprise package of the tournament. Not only are they one of the smallest unions in the country, with limited financial backing and support, but the team had only three practice sessions together before the interprovincial tournament.
The SWD also gets limited exposure to the rugby sevens code. What makes it logistically challenging is that most of these players have to travel some distance to come together for practice sessions.
As an added bonus, the boys got complimentary tickets from the South African Rugby Union (Saru) to attend the rugby match between the Boks and Australiaand meet the players after the game.
The SWD team would like to extend their gratitude to the sponsors whose generosity enabled this beautiful experience: Coris Zietsman (Saru), Kobus le Roux (head of marketing: Free State Rugby Union), Sarel Theron (BrandTrade George), SSK Mossel Bay, Four Brothers Mossel Bay, Pure Water George, Nestlé Mossel Bay, Van Rensburgs and Loerie Bakery George, three big-hearted George supporters and Flordis South Africa.
Their deepest gratitude goes out to the SWD Primary Schools Rugby Management and coaching team: Pieter Conradie, Martin Davids, Dawie Jonker, Elton Titus and Ralph Michaels.
One of the parents said their dedication, hard work, commitment, leadership, guidance and love towards the boys were immeasurably precious.
"We celebrate and thank you. Most of these young men come from difficult socio-economic backgrounds. They went through a gruelling trial process in order to be selected.
"There is no doubt that rugby has the ability to give young people an opportunity to expand their field of experience, broaden their frames of reference and provide them with opportunities to better their circumstances.
"These wonderful experiences open doors for them and create many more opportunities - opportunities they would otherwise not be exposed to - which could potentially set them on a path for a beautiful future.
"The most beautiful gift, though, which arises from this experience, is the friendship bonds formed and sealed.
"These young men get the chance to learn about the stories of their peers from all walks of life. This is the greatest achievement of SWD primary schools rugby: the facilitation of Madiba's dream of a nation taking hands and living in harmony.
"It is not just about rugby, it is about the building of compassion for our shared human experience."
ARTICLE & PHOTOS: HUGO REDELINGHUYS, GEORGE HERALD SPORTS EDITOR
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