By Chesley Daniels
Swallows Rugby Club ended their highly successful season off with a glamourous end-of-year awards ceremony dinner, photo shoot and Dona at the Albany Sports Club recently.
The club was also crowned the undisputed SEDRU Regional League champs and represented SEDRU in the EPRU Inter Sub Union semi-final against Karoo Springbokke.
Held at their new home ground at Albany Sports Club House, players, supporters, officials, invited guests, club legends and sponsors came to see the awards handed out.
Ivan “Die Motta” Agnew scooped Player of the Year, the most prestigious award, at the ceremony, whilst he was also awarded the Fans Player of the Year award and SEDRU Representation award. Agnew scored three tries during the season and assisted in many tries with his experience, skill and profound awareness.
The club’s veteran, Agnew, was awarded the title of esteemed Player of the Year for his consistent performances and dedication throughout the season. He was also a member of the South Eastern District Rugby Union (SEDRU) side during the past season.
Another star performer who scooped numerous awards at the ceremony was Captain Wonga Wakashe. The “big fella” won the Player’s Player of the Year, Best 1st XV Forward, Most Tries and SEDRU Representation awards. He enjoyed a highly successful season and was one of the standout players who made an immense impact in his first season at the club.
Reggie Waldick, who acted in his capacity as a rugby administrator and rugby legend, was the guest speaker at the event that saw the club looking ahead to its 80th-anniversary celebrations next year. Xanephan May, the current Swallows’ president, delivered his president’s speech.
An emotional May congratulated the winners and thanked everyone, including the sponsors, for their contribution towards the success of the evening. “Today, I stand as a very proud president of the club, full of tears, presenting my president’s report. I am immensely proud of what the club has achieved this year and what we’ve been through to get where we are today.
“Many wanted to see us fall and fail; we’ve been in many boardroom cases and won them all. We’ve stood together as one family and overcome all the obstacles and challenges. It was worth it in the end, and I can only thank our Heavenly Father above, who got us through all of this.
“I am super proud to have such a supportive and sound, hardworking executive who fought tooth and nail for this club. Thank you to all the players who put their bodies on the line, as well as the dedicated coaching staff for your hard work and sacrifice; it’s appreciated,” May said.
Waldick congratulated the award winners who will receive their awards and Swallows on winning the SEDRU League. “You must never stop dreaming, and as a professional player, you need to sacrifice, be disciplined, be committed and work extremely hard to reach the top,” Waldick said.
After seeing the players in action during the 2023 rugby season, he came away convinced that Swallows is filled with talented players.
Waldick motivated the players and congratulated the club on their outstanding achievements since 1944. He praised the hardworking club executives and encouraged them not to give up on keeping the club on top.
After receiving his awards, an excited and happy Agnew expressed his delight. “I am forever grateful for what Swallows means to me. Swallows is undoubtedly one of the most successful and talented clubs in [Makhanda].” Agnew is one of the club’s senior players.
He is revered as a disciplined team member on and off the field and one of the season’s most consistent performers.
THE FULL LIST OF AWARDS:
- PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Ivan Agnew
- PLAYER’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Wonga Wakashe
- FANS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Ivan Agnew
- PRESIDENT’S AWARD – Stefan Mentoor
- BEST 1ST XV FORWARD PLAYER – Wonga Wakashe
- BEST 1ST XV BACKLINE PLAYER – Bradley Christian
- BEST 1ST RESERVE FORWARD PLAYER – Zane Stokes
- BEST 1ST RESERVE BACKLINE PLAYER – Brayton Plaatjies
- YOUNG BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Nathan Myburgh
- MOST DEDICATED PLAYER – Jody Duiker
- MOST IMPROVED PLAYER – Elandre Lofty-Eaton
- GOLDEN BOOT – Zenovan Denston
- MOST TRIES 1ST XV – Wonga Wakashe
- MOST TRIES 1ST RESERVE – Steward Morris
- SEDRU REPS – Weston Du Plessis (Coach), Ivan Agnew, Wonga Wakashe, Stefan Mentoor, Ruwayden Sias, Jason Henson, Zenovan Denston, Ethan Williams
- PROVINCIAL REPS – Deano Boesak (Sharks U18), Carl Oerson (EP U15 Coach), Elandre Sias (EP Academy)
- NATIONAL REPS – Qondani Carlos Katywa (Kenya National Team), Deano Boesak (SA U19)
Swallows will have a bumper 2024 season where the club will celebrate its 80th anniversary. The club plans various activities and celebrations come 2024.