UP-Tuks women’s rugby captain wants to learn from the best
Mediocre is a word Libbie Janse van Rensburg who captains the Delta Drone UP-TuksWomensRugby7's hates that is why she decided to go to New Zealand to learn from the best.
She plans to train at the Inside Rugby Academy in Mt Maunganui at least until the end of February.
Janse van Rensburg has been one of the UP-Tuks team’s stalwarts over the last few years winning a few players of the tournament awards during their international campaigns. She has also played a significant role to ensure that UP-Tuks has become the best women’s sevens club team in South Africa.
However, being the ever realist, she realised that she had become the proverbial “big fish in a small pond.” Or to put it another way, she felt her game was starting to stagnate.
“Don’t get me wrong. I am forever grateful for the guidance and support I got from Delta Drone and Tuks to improve my skills as a rugby player. It certainly helped to get all these opportunities to play internationally.
“The reality, however, is that women’s rugby in South Africa is not up to standard when compared to what is happening internationally. I want to try and understand why that is. One way to do so is to learn from the best and who better than from the New Zealanders.
“I have only been at the Academy for a few days, and already it feels like I am getting a new perspective as to what it takes to play good rugby. What is exciting is that I shall certainly be able to bring some new ideas to Tuks which hopefully will help to lift the team’s game to another level.”
Janse van Rensburg admits that she was contemplating playing rugby in France in the hope that she might get the opportunity to become part of their national setup sometime, but she has decided against it.
“Who knows maybe I will consider doing so at a later stage, but for now my main goal is to find ways to become a better player. There are also still some unfulfilled goals that I want to help achieve playing for Tuks.”
The UP-Tuks team will this year again be campaigning actively internationally, and it is a given that they will be playing to win. They had a dream season last year winning two of the seven international tournaments they contested and finishing runners-up twice. UP-Tuks also had a third-place finish.
Riaan van der Merwe (head coach) is, however, so passionate about the game that he does not only want UP-Tuks to play better rugby but every women's club team in South Africa. He realises the best way to do so is to give more local players international exposure. Unfortunately, very few teams have the budget to travel.
The solution for Van der Merwe was to try and convince international teams to come to play in South Africa, and it seems as he has succeeded. In March UP-Tuks will be hosting an international tournament. A French team from Bordeaux has already indicated that they will be playing as has the Springbok Women’s Sevens Team. There is also a real chance of a team from Botswana competing.