Wits rowing club makes a splash 

The Wits University’s rowing club has their sights set on a strong end to the 2023 season. 

The Wits Rowing club has made it to the fifth out of 10 positions at the University Sports South Africa rowing sprint championships at Mis Verstand dam, in Cape Town this past weekend.  

Wits rowing chairperson Malose Makwea and Jason Westman won gold in the men’s lightweight pair category, in a time of 3 mins and 36 secs. The lightweight category allows for each contestant to weigh 70kgs, and there is no person steering (coxswain). The pair defeated the University of Pretoria, which was trailing behind by just six seconds, along with three other teams.

The two also came second in the men’s lightweight double, which does not consider the participant’s weight.

Unfortunately, the women’s team was not able to get any medals in this competition, however, their captain Amy Cooper said that “everyone gained important experience, especially those new to racing.” Meanwhile, Makwea said: “the team spirit is very high, and people want to do better, which is good.” 

Wits Sport rowing officer Tebogo Rabothata said that he is happy with the consistency of the club and he is hoping for podium finishes at the end of the year. “We really need to up our game [going forward] to finish top two or three.” He added by saying that as training increases, so will the depth of the club. 

The team at Wits is predominantly made up by those who are new to the sport. This is referred to as ‘novice rowers’, which consists of rowers who have less than one year of rowing experience.  

Deborah Cronje, who steers the boat describes rowing for the club as extremely fulfilling, with the team consistently developing. “We are largely a novice team, with [the club] winning the development award at the previous boat race,” said Cronje. 

Members that the Wits Vuvuzela spoke to added that it is the culture of the Wits rowing that separates it from other clubs and contributes to the rower’s growth. “Unlike high school, or other university rowing environments, we focus on enjoying the sport,” said men’s captain Troy van der Westhuysen, adding that “with [enjoying the sport] comes growth.”   

Across the board, those involved with the club are looking to recruit more Witsies to row, regardless of experience level.  

Currently the club is busy with preparations ahead of the Gauteng and South African Championships, which will be taking place this month.  

Gauteng championships will take place on the 14th – 15th, whilst the South African Championships will take place on April 28th to the 29th at Roodeplaat dam. From the 7th to the 12th of September, the club will also take part in Boat Racing in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape. The club is hoping to send two men’s and two women’s teams to these competitions. 


The Wits Rowing club’s ladies team on the water at USSA sprints. Photo: Wits Rowing


Witsie’s score big in the 2015 USSA’s

Wits athletes excelled in the 2015 USSA tournament in various sport codes 


Wits rugby team competing in the 2015 inter-varsity tournament organised by University Sports South Africa (USSA). Photo: Provided

Wits rugby team competing in the 2015 inter-varsity tournament organised by University Sports South Africa (USSA).                                                                         Photo: Provided

While most students were on the midyear break, Wits athletes were competing in the 2015 inter-varsity tournament organised by University Sports South Africa (USSA).

Wits excelled both on the court and on the field in seven different codes including basketball, hockey, rugby, netball, badminton, squash and gymnastics.

The Wits women’s teams were some of the top achievers in netball, basketball and hockey.

The Wits hockey girls, coached by former South African women’s team striker Pietie Coetzee-Turner, beat out the other universities including the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in the final where they won 3-0. This secured them a promotion to the A section of next year’s tournament where they will face tough competitors including Stellenbosch University.

The men’s hockey side didn’t fare as well, when they lost their vital 3rd game of the tournament to Nelson Mandela Municipality University (NMMU) 9-1, and could no longer reach the play-offs. This also means that the men’s Hockey team may not make the cut-off for next year’s Varsity Hockey series.

The Wits Netball team made a great comeback and won the B section of the USSA’s. They went on to beat three teams during the round robin section. Attempting to regain their winning streak they went on to beat Durban University of Technology (DUT), but unfortunately lost in the following match to Central University of Technology (CUT Bloemfontein).

Wits women’s Basketball team had to defend the gold they won at the University of Pretoria in last year’s tournament. But Vaal University of Technology (VUT), proved to be their undoing, losing 58-65 and giving them the Silver position.

The men’s basketball team beat UKZN 75-41 but were the recipients of a debated forfeiture ruling after allegedly arriving late for a game. This resulted in them ending the tournament in 9th place.

It wasn’t just the ladies that performed during the winter USSA program, with the Wits Rugby team finishing in 5th position after facing old rivals UKZN and University of Western Cape (UWC) on the sports field.

Although Wits lost during their opening game, they regrouped to defeat UKZN 54-0. This turned out to be a grudge match after Wits was beaten by UKZN in the Varsity Shield final in April. In their final game, Wits finally beat UWC 32-7.

2015 was one of the best USSA’s as far as Wits rugby XV, according to Wits Rugby manager Al Leonard.

In gymnastics the Wits team placed third overall and came home with great results including 12 medals. Among them are Ruan Prestorius who placed first in the novice mini-trampoline while Vhuwavho Matibe brought home the gold in the level 2 rhythmic section.

On the badminton court Witsies Matthew Michel and Tashlin Hamid excelled and were selected for the national squad, while the team placed 5th overall in the A section.

Witsies not only took part in the USSA’s but also played host to the Squash programme where they claimed four victories. But unfortunately came up short against heavyweights, NMMU, UJ, and UCT.