Rugby club fights on
Lunga Biyela - The Witness
Durban - Six of their team-mates have drowned, but the Motherwell Rugby Club in Port Elizabeth will be back in training on Tuesday and may yet play in an Easter weekend tournament in Cape Town.
Club player and manager Mncedisi Mazomba told The Witness: “We have just come out of a counselling session with Lifeline, and the South African Police Service has also helped us with counsellors,” he said.
“This is a painful time for the club, and we are not taking it easy. We are hurting, but we know that with pain comes healing .”
One player drowned and five team-mates are still missing, presumed drowned, after a freak current swept 21 people to sea on Sunday. The players had been for a training session and decided to cool off, when tragedy struck.
Mazomba said surviving club members would train on Tuesday.
A decision whether to attend the Easter tournament had yet to be taken, but it was felt that the club did have enough players to field a team.
“Losing one player is never easy, and we have lost five who were part of the squad that was going to take part in the tournament,” said Mazomba.
He told the Associated Press that the team was formed in 1992 as an outlet for boys and young men from Port Elizabeth’s Motherwell Township.
It kept them away from crime and other dangers, he said. The club had three teams that played other minor league teams along South Africa’s eastern coast, and even travelled as far as Cape Town.
They regularly practised on the beach, enjoying “fresh air, beautiful scenery.”
Mazomba said that Sunday was his birthday.
“The feeling was supposed to be a cheerful one, spending your birthday with your team,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we lost six team-mates.”
In his reaction, Eastern Province Rugby Union president Cheeky Watson said it was the worst incident ever to befall rugby in the Port Elizabeth community.
“The general feeling around here is of shock … There is a feeling of paralysis in PE as a whole.
“What this tragic incident has shown is that life is very precious, and can be snuffed out just like that.
“I think it’s shown everyone that life is a very precious thing.”
Watson said that while Motherwell Club wasn’t one of the biggest in the city, it had a tremendous impact on residents.
“The club did a lot of good for the community, and it kept a lot of people in the area active.
“We, as a union, have sent a message to both the community and the club.
“We were down there on Sunday to pass on our message,” Watson said.
“It was a tall task” to expect the club to participate in SARU’s Easter Tournament in Cape Town.
“The club will sit down and discuss whether they want to attend the tournament. Once that has been done, we will see what type of support they can be given ...” he said.
A meeting had also been held to discuss how best to help the bereaved families.
“There’s never really an appropriate way to help someone who’s lost a loved one, but we will still sit down further to discuss about what we can do,” Watson added.
In his reaction, South African Rugby Union president (SARU) Oregan Hoskins also expressed condolences.