Nelson Mandela University are all set to host the sixth edition of the University Sport South Africa women’s sevens tournament this Saturday.
Former rugby manager Melissa Awu, who put forward the motion to present the tournament, said it was a great honour for the Port Elizabeth university and that everything was on track to stage a memorable event.
With defending champions University of Pretoria absent from the line-up, Awu said she expected an exciting showdown in which any one of the 14 teams could emerge victorious.
“With Tuks not in the running this year and many teams featuring national players, anyone could take this tournament,” she said earlier this week.
Awu explained that the teams would be divided into four pools, with the winners of each qualifying for the semifinals of the one-day competition.
The Madibaz, along with Walter Sisulu University, have entered two teams each.
The hosts’ first team, along with University of Johannesburg, Walter Sisulu B and University of Venda, make up Pool A. Their second team were drawn alongside University of Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu University A in Pool D.
Preparations to host the event started earlier this year and everything had gone well since then thanks to great teamwork from the local organising committee, coaches, students and USSA, according to Awu.
“We started the planning with the coaches and then expanded the organising committee to include more students. Preparations are going really well and it’s been great to see such willingness and hard work from everyone.”
The tournament would offer valuable exposure for the growing sport of women’s rugby, said Awu, while confirming that the national selectors would be in attendance.
She said it was also a great experience for the university, who finished towards the bottom of the log last year, and the perfect opportunity for their teams to show off their skills to the rest of the rugby fraternity.
With two squads on the fixture list, Awu said they would be going into the weekend “all guns blazing”.
“We’re definitely on track to make an impact. We want a shot at a medal and ultimately want to win.”
The tournament, which takes place at the South Campus, starts with the match between UJ and WSU at 8am, with the Madibaz next on at 8.20am. The grand finale will be played at 5.20pm.