A festival of rugby action is heading to Butterworth next weekend as the inaugural Mnquma Rugby Heritage Tournament gets set to light up the weekend.
The tournament, which is being spearheaded by the Amathole Sport Federation, will bring teams from all over the Mnquma area, as well as a few teams from outside to take part in the exciting weekend of action.
“This tournament is the first of its kind here in Mnquma, and we as the Mnquma Rugby association are hosting the festival,” said Mnquma rugby Association chairman Simpiwe Tsipa, known as Gabs.
“The commitment in sport has been on a downward slope recently, so we decided for the very first time that we must do this very big tournament.
“The idea behind the tournament is to revive rugby in the area. It is a revival programme and we have invited all the teams from the area as well as others from outside to come and take part.”
Twenty-six teams have confirmed their entry to this year’s tournament and they will be bringing full squads to be a part of the action.
“We have confirmed 16 male teams and 10 female teams that will be taking part, and are expecting about 750 players in total,” said Tsipa.
The players will also get the chance to impress with scouts expected to be at the tournament over the weekend.
“This tournament has the backing of Border rugby and we are expecting scouts from premier and super league teams as well as from Border to be here,” said Tsipa.
It is hoped that this tournament will be held for many years to come. However, Tsipa confirmed that it would be played for at least the next three years.
“This will be played for the next three years. Next year it will be in Nqamakwe, and the final leg will be in Dutywa,” said Tsipa.
“The Amathole sport federation has said that codes must no longer have once-off tournaments, so when you start a festival you have to agree to having it for at least three years so as to fully support that code.
“It is in line with the strategy of the Amathole Sport Federation being led by myself, and even after the three years we want to continue it in other areas in Amathole so to promote the sport all over the region.”
All teams who have agreed to take part must make permanent arrangements by tomorrow so that the organisation of the tournament can be finalised and everything put in place.
“Of utmost importance for us is that we are requesting that teams be affiliated by this Friday (September 15), so that we are able to confirm our fixture list and when we have managers meeting just before the tournament we will have everything ready and in order,” said Tsipa.
The action will be battled out next week Saturday and Sunday, with the Msobomvu Rugby Stadium the main stadium over the weekend, while games will also be played at Walter Sisulu in Butterworth.