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One of the South African Rugby Legends Association’s (SARLA) most important priorities is to provide ongoing support for rugby development across South Africa. And this year, SARLA’s VUKA Rugby Programme proudly celebrates 10 years of changing lives for boys and girls aged 15-19 from previously disadvantaged areas.

The true accounts of success speak for themselves. VUKA heroes include Blitz Bok Zain Davids, Babalwa Latsha – Springbok Women’s Captain and Prop – and many more.

One of South Africa’s most inspiring players, Babalwa Latsha, has represented Western Province and earned national colours in both the Fifteens and Sevens rugby formats. She has captained the Springbok Women’s team since 2018 and recently led them in the World Cup Qualifiers in Brakpan. The team qualified for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup tournament with flying colours, winning all three of their games.

She also won SA Rugby’s Women’s 2017 Top Achiever Award and is set to become the first professional South African women’s rugby player, with negotiations underway for her to join the Saracens Women’s team in the UK.

Babalwa even found the time to successfully complete her law degree at the University of the Western Cape this year.

Nande Maduna, who joined the VUKA programme in 2016 at just 14-years-old, played in the very first Legends Cup, Valke Iqhawe and in the Grant Khomo Teams. He also represented South Africa at the 2018 Tri-Colore Games in Italy, where he scored three tries and helped win gold for the team.

Blitz Bok Zain Davids got his start in VUKA rugby at South Peninsula High School, Diep River, where his incredible talent was spotted by coaches from Rondebosch High School.

He transferred to Rondebosch in his final two years at school, which culminated in his selection for Western Province’s Grant Khomo and Craven Week sides, followed by his selection for SA schools in 2015 and the SA U20 team in 2016. After joining the SA Sevens Academy, Zain made his debut for the Blitz Boks in 2017. He’s made over 60 appearances on the Sevens circuit since then.

Thando Ncgelawane has made an impact both on and off the field. When selected for the very first VUKA Programme in the Valke Rugby Union in 2016, he played for Caphius Nyoka Secondary School in Etwatwa and was chosen as captain for the Etwatwa Regional Team – the team that went on to win the very first Legends Cup. He then captained the Valke Iqhawe Week team, which earned him a scholarship at St Dunstan’s College, where he became the school’s 2019 Head Boy.

Indiphle Tyeda from Border Rugby participated in the 2016 edition of Iqhawe Week and was selected at the recently-completed Craven Week to play in the U18 international tournament for the SA Schools A-Team, which is currently taking place.

These achievers are an inspiration to new participants in the VUKA Programme, who will proudly take up the mantle in the next 10 years and beyond. SARLA will continue to support the enrichment of young South Africans through sport in years to come.