Woman Rugby Player Babalwa Latsha Lights Up South Africa’s Rugby Fields By Cheryl Roberts

3 Jul

4ADEAFA5-F127-4088-84E2-DFD3723B29ACIts been an amazing 40 months in the life of young woman rugby player Babalwa Latsha, who never touched a rugby ball until she got to tertiary studies. Until the day before leaving for the USSA (student rugby tournament), Babalwa had never played rugby. It was a day before the USSA tournament in September 2014 that Babalwa first touched a
rugby ball.
And that’s how it all kicked off for this amazing young woman and her rugby talent. We are speaking about University of the Western Cape final year law student Babalwa Latsha.
After the student tournament, Babalwa fell in love with rugby. She went on to get selected in 2015, for Western Province senior women’s rugby team, without having played youth girls rugby. Later in the 2017 season, Babalwa had to take over the WP captaincy after the captain got injured. And then in the final minutes of the 2017 WP v Border SA
interprovincial final in East London, Babalwa had captained WP to a dramatic SA championship win in 5 years. Then came the call up to the
South African emerging women’s squad that toured the UK, late 2017.
And in early 2018, came the selection to the Springbok women’s squad,
followed by selection to USSA 7’s women’s rugby squad to play in the world university rugby championship, and a call-up to SA women’s rugby 7’s squad. Now Babalwa awaits to hear if she will make the final 12 of
the SA 7’s team to play in the World cup series in the USA in July.

I asked Babalwa Latsha several questions about rugby life. She gave me
the answers……..

Q: How did you start playing rugby?
I was asked to join the UWC 7s team to the USSA tournament in Pretoria in September of 2014, having never touched a rugby ball in my life before. It was the day before we left to tournament. I gave it a go, made the SA students team and never looked back.

Q: How do you combine academic work and playing rugby?
My studies are quite time-consuming and demanding but I do try my best to prioritise and manage time effectively

Q: Say what? You started playing rugby only at UWC? Not as a girl
rugby player for WP u18?
I had been playing football and participated in athletics field events before then. I’ve never played junior rugby.

Q: So when did you get selected for Western province women’s 15 team?
I got selected at WP in 2015. I actually started at loosehead prop. I currently play tighthead prop.

Q: Who has influenced your rugby?
My idol is men’s Springbok Tendai Beast Mtawarira. I really admire
him, his work ethic and style of play. My coaches have played a major role in my rugby; people such as Lwazi Mzozoyana, Blachang Fredericks,
Labeeb Levy and Tembani Ngubelanga have played influential roles in my
rugby.

Q: Would you like to get a pro rugby contract; play in the UK,
Australia or New Zealand?
I certainly would. It would open up so much more doors for me, also for other South African women rugby players and even those who will come after me.

Q: Do you prefer 7’s rugby or fifteen?
I do enjoy them both but 15’s is my niche.

Q: Tell us about your training schedule
At the moment (at 7s) its 2 field sessions a day: 1 morning and
another afternoon and 1 gym session, everyday.

Q: What improvements would you like to see for women’s rugby in SA?
I would like to see women’s rugby equated to that of males. There is a
huge gap between women’s rugby and our male counterparts. I’d like to see women’s rugby being more lucrative and commercialised. Women should be able to make a good living from playing rugby, have franchises and corporates involved in the sport. I would love for provincial women’s rugby to have much more exposure to the greater population by way of televising games and more.

Q: Can Western Province win the SA women’s interprovincial title
again, this year?
We are certainly working extremely hard in preparation for our IPL campaign. A lot of work is being put in behind the scenes and I’m confident we are making strides towards the ultimate 2018 goal; that being successfully defending our interprovincial championship title.

Q: What music do you like?
I love listening to old school RnB and Motown. I do like gospel music as well.

Q: And food tastes?
I love umphokoqo, steak and veggies are one of my favourites as well.

Q: What do you do when you not playing rugby and busy with academics?
I work part-time at the UWC gym as gym instructor and I do sports
commentary and analysis from time to time at a community radio station based in Khayelitsha.

Q: Who funds your studies?
I am on a bursary from NSF (national skills fund). I would like to practise in Cape Town as a lawyer after my studies but if an
opportunity presents itself elsewhere, I will definitely explore.

Q: Where did you go to school?
I attended EC Primary in Grassy Park and Constantia Primary in my younger years. I went on to Heathfield High in the Southern Suburbs but went on to matriculate at Makaula Senior Secondary School in Mount
Frere, Eastern Cape.

Q: And grow up?
I grew up in Grassy Park with my grandparents, moved to Westlake in Tokai to live with my parents. I spent my later teens in Khayelitsha.

Q: So you really into rugby, ain’t you?
I love it. It’s brought me lots of pleasure and happiness.

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