After the coronavirus lockdown forced a break in 2020, growth and development are at the centre of the team’s rebuilding phase.

The Wits women’s rugby team is gearing up for the start of the Pirates Grand Challenge tournament which commences on May 8.

The team’s preparations entail practice three times a week at the Wits rugby stadium to be ready for the premier club rugby league of the Golden Lions Rugby Union, which will feature some of Johannesburg’s best women’s sides. 

“We have a young group of players who all have a motivation to learn this game and I feel as if this tournament will be a good point to start the rebuilding phase of the team,” said head coach Marius Adams.

This rebuild is due to the 2020 season being put on hold by the covid-19 lockdown, which was a challenge for both the coach and the players. A strict monthly online programme ensured that the players were receiving the conditioning they needed to stay fit.

Prop Chardele Williamson told Wits Vuvuzela that to keep fit during the lockdown hiatus from contact sessions, “I did a lot of running every day, and some cardio and swam a bit. I also ate healthily during the quarantine which was really difficult.”

Now that rugby at community level is permitted under level-one lockdown restrictions, a maximum of 14 to 16 players per session trains to ensure social distance measures.

The team has suffered from a loss of some experienced players, who have moved on for various reasons, but remain a tight-knit group that has maintained a positive and development-conducive environment since the formation of the side in 2019. This is echoed by new team manager Amanda Dukada, a third-year BSc student, who says, The group is very friendly. It’s a positive space and they motivate each other.”

Adams hopes to use the Pirates Grand Challenge as a step towards being able to compete at University Sports South Africa, the interprovincial tournament scheduled for September that will feature some of the country’s best university level sides.

“I want the players to be ready and competitive.” Adams says.

The Wits team’s opening match at the Pirates Grand Challenge will be away against Zondi women’s rugby, on May 8.

FEATURED IMAGE:  Coach Marius Adams (left) instructs players during a training drill. Photo: Zanolwazi Kunene