Belle of the ball: Meet UP women’s rugby star Kemisetso Baloyi

Posted on October 17, 2019

There’s no stopping Kemisetso Baloyi (21) once she has the ball in hand. The women’s Sevens rugby player scored a total of 16 tries in the University Sports South Africa (USSA) and Varsity women’s tournaments – and in doing so, helped the Delta Drone Tuks women’s Sevens team win both competitions.

Baloyi’s slight build belies her prowess on the rugby pitch; she looks as if she might be more at home sprinting down an athletics track. But rugby is her passion. The University of Pretoria BA Law student has been playing since the age of 15, and was hooked since the first time she touched the ball. Not even breaking her nose during a training session last year quelled her love for the game.

Yet her passion for rugby can’t be ascribed only to the thrill of outwitting an opponent on the field or executing a crunching tackle. The camaraderie among the Delta Drone Tuks players is significant to Baloyi. “We are not only teammates,” she says. “We are friends that care about one another – that is what makes it special.”

Baloyi is modest about her try-scoring, which she says doesn’t always come down to talent. “I think at times it is more about survival. I don’t want to be tackled, which means I have to be innovative when I get the ball. Having the ability to side-step certainly helps.”

Nor is winning necessarily about scoring tries. “Being the one that makes that one match-saving tackle is sometimes more rewarding,” she says.

Last year Baloyi mostly played as a hooker, one of the team’s forwards, for Delta Drone Tuks; only this year did start playing in the backline. Though playing a particular position isn’t much of a concern for her – what’s important is that she gets to play.

“I am not the fastest player, so I think when we play against fleet-footed teams like Japan, I am of more value playing as hooker, as the team needs to have forwards that can stay with the ball. Against slower opponents, I like to be in the backline as there is more opportunity to run with the ball.”

One season highlight for Baloyi was beating the French national Sevens side; the other was winning the inaugural Varsity women’s tournament – to have captained the team during that final and scored three tries just made it all the more memorable.

- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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