We just wanted for them to get game time. We were not looking for a result but for them to get game time and for them to get used to the contact situation.
RUGBY novices Black Warriors RFC took baby steps over the weekend and got their first match initiation against an accommodating Magte XV at the municipal sports grounds in West End Park in front of an appreciative and jovial crowd.
The score for the Warriors first official game was not important from the word go. This much was shared by Warriors’ volunteer coach Andrew Klasie. “My aim is for the team to get game time,” he said.
On Saturday afternoon the former rag-tag team that had no play ground facility, no uniform nor team colours but who have a big, courageous heart, turned up at the West End sports grounds in a spanking new red and white strip and togs.
The strip was provided by the department of Sport, Arts and Culture, and included some of the basic training equipment for the team. They received the strip just in time for their match against the Magte XV.
Plans for the team’s first game took a giant step forward with the arrival of coach Klasie on their doorstep some two weeks or so prior. He was of proven pedigree having cut his coaching teeth at Thistles RFC before going on to coach at other clubs and school rugby teams.
During that time he picked up a number of medals including the league with Thistles, while other league titles came with Noordkaap High as well as the Kovsies League.
Klasie’s résumé indicates that he was the head coach for the Kimberley streek (region) team which he at one point took to Saldanha Bay for a national tournament.
Despite an undertaking to himself to tone down his overall engagement with rugby in order to devote more time to his family, after the founders of Warriors, Lungile Mahlathi and Karabo Mothomme, approached him with a proposal to show the team the ropes as a volunteer, he reneged on his family time pledge and agreed to be drawn into Warriors.
The pair had impressed upon Klasie that they were reviving rugby in Galeshewe with the game having last been played there in 1970 by a variety of local clubs. Those clubs have since become “extinct”.
“The resurgence of super star black rugby players who have made it into the big provincial teams and the national team was an obvious motivation to Mahlathi and Mothomme.
“I realised a new club without a coach (coming) back into Galeshewe after so many years! How could I refuse?” said Klasie.
Over less than two weeks of taking over the coaching reins at Warriors Klasie had taken complete greenhorns and turned them into players with real potential. In an earlier interview Klasie said as much, “Unlike other coaches who nurture talent we here are working with potential,” he said.
The team’s challenges are, however, far from over. At some point Warriors used a makeshift training ground in Galeshewe which was just a clear patch of gravel in front of the local post office.
After a week the team moved to Retswelele’s Frank Roro cricket pitch. This space they share with many other sports clubs who are active on that patch of grass on a daily basis.
At this pitch Klasie got to grips with instilling in the team the basic rules, player positions and territorial dominance of the play spaces and much more in usable chunks for the novices.
On Saturday the Magte XV had kindly consented to the match-up with Warriors as a gesture of sportsmanship. The game itself was in places very elementary with the referee’s whistle going off frequently for penalties against the inexperienced Warriors. This prompted the Magte side to plead with the referee to ease off the whistle and let the game flow.
Needless to say, Magte breached the Warriors defences with a modicum of sweat and put all the points on the scoreboard during the match with the Warriors unable to break their duck.
Despite the defeat on the scoreboard Klasie celebrated the victory of getting the club into a game situation. “It was the first game,” he said. “A lot of the guys are still learning the game. However, we are positive and ready for the season. We will grow from here. We will work hard. We know our mistakes now but I am with the guys and we will build this team to be the best.
“We just wanted for them to get game time. We were not looking for a result but for them to get game time and for them to get used to the contact situation.”
Magte coach Joe Molale said about their opponents. “Warriors are like our team some years back. We started out with five players and now we are 65 members strong. That’s how it all started for us. I think the Warriors are on their way from that side. We are willing to support them where they need it.”
Warriors team members afterwards joined a friendship team circle where they were loudly lauded and accepted into the rugby playing fraternity.