Rector cheers UWC rugby team
UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian O’Connell, has urged the University rugby team to take a leaf out of the multi-million state of the art Life Sciences building’s book when they take to the field in this year’s Varsity Shield competition.
At a meet-and-greet session on 22 January – ahead of their opening Varsity Shield match at Fort Hare University scheduled for five days later – O’Connell told the team that the building along Robert Sobukhwe Drive has changed the consciousness of the world about the University. UWC, he noted, is now recognised as a serious research institution which has attracted a number of top international scientists and which has dramatically risen in rankings.
“Can you imagine if a historical black university, with most of its students still poor and without the benefits the others have, what it would be if it enters the higher levels of rugby?,” O’Connell asked. “Every South African who is not white and who has good sense will be so proud. The message will go out that apartheid is gone.”
Unlike last year, the competition this season will involve promotion/relegation where the top team in the Shield will be promoted to the Cup section, while the last team will drop to the Shield. The runners up in the Shield will be involved in play-offs with the second last side in the Cup, with the winner going to the Cup while the loser is relegated to the Shield.
The Cup is dominated by the previously white Universities, while the Shield section is comprised of mainly former black institutions. The UWC side were runners up last year after they lost the final to the Central University of Technology.
O’Connell warned the UWC team that other universities want to stay on top, but “we must say rugby is our game, too.” He added that UWC is a metaphor for what is possible without resources.
“You are an important part in the building of pride in this country. If you give your mind, your energy, your passion and your rationale to show what is possible, one day your achievements will be seen as great, if not much greater than the scientific achievements that we managed to accomplish.”
UWC Director of Rugby and Sport Development, Peter de Villiers, promised O’Connell and the University community that his team will do everything in their power to fly the University flag high in the competition.
“We pledge to you that we will strengthen your hand,” the former Springbok mentor said. “We will make this university one of those that people will never forget as something that the previously disadvantaged group of people can rely on as a new bastion to build their future upon.”