Monaco rugby ju­niors to play in Athlone

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WEEK­END AR­GUS RE­PORTER

CAPE Town is re­turn­ing the favour this week­end as the city hosts the SA-Monaco Rugby Ex­change, a pro­gramme run in as­so­ci­a­tion with Princess Char­lene’s foun­da­tion which saw young Ma­nen­berg play­ers travel to that city-state ear­lier this year.

The SA Rugby Leg­ends As­so­ci­a­tion, which is host­ing the event, said the pro­gramme, now in its se­cond year, aimed at pro­mot­ing rugby among young teens in both na­tions, but fo­cus­ing specif­i­cally on young­sters from dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas here.

The ini­tia­tive is run in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Princess Char­lene of Monaco Foun­da­tion and the Mone­gasque Rugby Fed­er­a­tion, and this week­end Cape Town will host a rep­re­sen­ta­tive U16 team from Monaco.

The SA-Monaco U16 rugby tour­na­ment is to be held at City Park Sta­dium in Athlone to­mor­row, and will fea­ture teams from the Leg­ends As­so­ci­a­tion’s Vuka Rugby pro­gramme.

They will play a roundrobin for­mat in the morn­ing to de­ter­mine plac­ings in the knock­out stages.

“It is a priv­i­lege to wel­come the Mone­gasque Fed­er­a­tion,” Leg­ends As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Gavin Vare­jes said.

“Prince Al­bert and Princess Char­lene have spent sig­nif­i­cant time, ef­fort and money in bring­ing our two coun­tries to­gether and forg­ing stronger sport­ing re­la­tion­ships.”

He said young South Africans had always been wel­comed with open arms in Monaco. “So it’s won­der­ful that we can re­turn the hos­pi­tal­ity by wel­com­ing the young team to our shores.”

The Monaco team will also en­joy a private tour of the Spring­bok Ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­com­pa­nied by a Spring­bok rugby leg­end, re­ceive a rugby master class at the Stel­len­bosch-based SA 7’s rugby academy, and watch the Vuka pro­gramme’s Leg­ends Cup fi­nals at UCT to­day.

Leg­ends chief ex­ec­u­tive Ste­fan Terblanche said the ex­change also aimed to fos­ter an un­der­stand­ing of dif­fer­ent cul­tures, and give chil­dren from both coun­tries the chance to learn more about each other, through rugby.

“Princess Char­lene has been a won­der­ful sup­porter, and we are work­ing closely to help de­velop the game she loves dearly in Monaco, as well as to help de­velop the youth through sport, some­thing she is very pas­sion­ate about.”

This morn­ing’s U15 Leg­ends Cup at UCT is an ex­ten­sion of the Vuka Rugby league pro­gramme, which is played in 96 schools in the Cape Town re­gion. Dur­ing the weekly games, stand out play­ers are iden­ti­fied and placed in zonal teams to rep­re­sent their re­gion in the Leg­ends Cup, which takes place dur­ing the July hol­i­days.

The Vuka pro­gramme has been run­ning for nine years in the Western Cape, and has now be­ing rolled out around the coun­try with the sup­port and back­ing of the SA Rugby Union.

“Our pro­grammes help nur­ture and de­velop ta­lent in ar­eas where rugby is not usu­ally of­fered as a sport at school, but where lots of po­ten­tial ta­lent lies. Through Vuka, the Leg­ends Cup and the Leg­ends Iqhawe Week, we are able to help Saru take rugby through­out the coun­try,” Terblanche said.

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