The Eastern Cape rugby team whose six players drowned when they were swept out to sea following a swim to cool down after a beach practice on March 24 were back on the field this weekend playing at the Lagunya Easter tournament in Cape Town.
Although the death of the Port Elizabeth-based Motherwell Rugby Club’s six key players – Xolisa Nyembezi, Masixole Myosana, Arthur Peters, Avuyile Tshabalala, Lundi Ramba and Anelisa Mbuzeli – at Bluewater Bay has affected the players emotionally, yesterday they played their final match in a four-day 16-team tournament in Nyanga.
Yesterday, the club played the Bowl Cup match to determine the top places among the eight teams that were knocked out in the first round.
Motherwell earned themselves tenth place after they lost 10-20 to Cape Town’s Langa United.
Manduleli Ngqoshana, the club’s tour manager, said after the tragic death of six players, the club had to bring in six new players at very short notice but that did not stop the club from playing and winning.
Most of the players that played this weekend were among the 21 players who took part in the beach training session that fatal day, but were the fortunate ones who were rescued by lifeguards.
Despite the tragedy, Ngqoshana said the players’ spirit was “high” and the players were “playing in honour of those we lost in the incident”.
He said when the club got home a memorial service would be organised and the players would visit the graves of their dead teammates.
He said the tragedy had led to other players being afraid of getting into the water again.
“Before big games we normally go for a swim to relax our muscles but the players and their captain have find other ways of relaxing muscles, now they relax by jogging,” said Ngqoshana.
Commenting before the final game Ngqoshana said he had hoped to win the Cup, “in memory of the fallen players”.
The tragedy has touched many South Africans, said tournament manager and organiser Buster Phillips.
“The loss of Motherwell players affected everybody greatly. We are saddened and we were shocked when we heard the news of what happened,” said Phillips.
“Before the beginning of the games we held some prayers and send our condolences to the family of the men lost in the tragedy.”
The tournament, supported by the South African Rugby Union, features a number of clubs who play in their provinces’ top leagues, including African Bombers and Spring Rose from the EP Grand Challenge, while Swallows features in the Border Super League.
Host club Lagunya were to play Star of Hope in the final late yesterday. – WCN