Western Province women’s rugby side’s excellent Inter Provincial League (IPL) campaign ended on a disappointing note, after losing 24-15 against their nearest rivals Border in the final at Newlands.
Coach Laurian Johannes’s charges were chasing their fourth successive title.
The side was unbeaten in ten matches, while border lost only one against WP, in the run up to the final.
Both sides scored three tries a piece in the tightly-contested final. Wing Simamkele Namba, flyhalf Donelle Snyders and scrumhalf, Felicia Jacobs crossed the tryline for the home side
Despite the weekend’s setback, WP’s run this season had more positives than anything else. One of their star performers in their almost flawless campaign was newly-signed Busy Bees winger, Namba.
The 23-year-old, who actually earned her rugby stripes at the same Border Rugby, scored six tries in ten matches, in the run up to Saturday’s final.
Those tries came against KwaZulu-Natal (2), EP (2) and Blue Bulls (one at home and one away).
Her performances didn’t go unnoticed, as she was invited to be part of coach Stanley Reubenheimer’s Springbok camp in Stellenbosch, from Monday August 2 to Friday August 6. She couldn’t hide her excitement. This is, after all, the first time she’s part of the senior national team set up.
“Yes, I have been part of the junior national set up, in different age groups over the years but this one is big. It’s an opportunity for me to showcase my talent at the highest level. Another good thing is that I know most of the guys in the camp.”
This is, indeed, a big opportunity for her and her teammates, as the side is busy preparing for the upcoming IRB Women’s Rugby World. The long-awaited World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in New Zealand later this year, was postponed to next year. As disappointing as it is, it might just be a blessing in disguise for the SA team, who were about to take part in the world spectacle for the first time since 2014. Namba says she was 16, growing up in Mdantsane township in East London, when she was bitten by the rugby bug. “It was around 2012/2013 when I really got interested in rugby. I started off with Border’s under-16 side and, soon, played in the Craven Week under-16 tournament. At club level, I played for Winter Rose from under-18 up to senior level,” she said. “That’s actually where Cape Town’s Busy Bees spotted me. We used to play in a tournament called Champs of Champs, where sides from different provinces got together. So, Winter Rose and Busy Bees always played against each other in the final. That’s why Msutu Kewana, from Busy Bees, approached me and asked if I would like to play my rugby in Cape Town. I got the blessing from my club and, early this year, I joined Bees,” she said . As soon she landed in Cape Town, the diminutive utility back attended WP trials and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. She also noted there’s a big difference between WP and Border Rugby. “I can say 2020 has been an interesting year for me, a year of firsts. Almost everything is new to me. And, in terms of my game, I can say it has improved a lot, I think that’s a result of many things,” she said. “Fitness-wise, for instance, I am a different player now. Before I came here I struggled with injuries, which resulted in me missing a number of games. This year, however, I have played 10 out of 11 matches for Western Province. I think that’s because the way we train, the way it plays a big role. Here they take those things into consideration,” she said.