By OVAYO MILISA NOVUKELA
Oatlands Preparatory School’S U13A rugby team has been a force to be reckoned with this season.
Oatlands is not a traditional rugby school. But this season, they have remained unbeaten despite playing against powerhouses, such as Selborne Preparatory School, Cradock Primary School, Port Alfred Primary, and Dr Viljoen Primary.
The boys practice on an uneven field belonging to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. Head coach Renaldo Gombert said the school doesn’t have the budget to invest in a standard rugby field, but they can use St Andrew’s Preparatory facilities to play home matches.
The boys don’t mind. They, along with their coaches and the school, are passionate about the game.
Shawn Kitchen, the backline coach, assists Gombert. Kitchen said that the boys have the potential to become not just great players but great men that can make a difference to their communities. “We (coaches) are here to guide and help them.”
“We have a strong, powerful team and has a lot of speed and talent, which makes us a deadly side that can beat any team in the province,” Kitchen said.
Gombert said Blue Bulls flyhalf Johannes Lodewikus Goosen sponsored the team kit and equipment. “Johan heard our request for sponsorship of the kit and he was more than glad to help,” said Gombert.
GBS Mutual Bank is also sponsoring the team and assisting the school.
I had a chance to train and play with the boys and I got a feel for why they are so good. Their committed tackling and team coordination, and understanding between the players impressed me.
Oatlands recently demolished Kingswood College 54-0 win.
“Part of the reason the boys are so good is that we teach them our rugby system from the time they are U11 so that by the time they come to U13, they know the basics and exactly what to do,” said Gombert.
Gombert urged the public to continue supporting the boys and investing in the rugby programme and infrastructure.