Border prop Blake Kyd says the SuperSport Rugby Challenge is one of the best initiatives launched by SARU.
The SuperSport Rugby Challenge was launched this year with much excitement as it was a fresh approach to South African domestic rugby, especially with its inclusion of club rugby (via SARU’s successful Gold Cup) and community outreach.
After two rounds, there has been plenty of praise from fans and organisers from a rugby and social standpoint. While there’s been plenty of competitive action among the teams in each region, the crowd attendance, especially on Sundays, have been impressive.
The highlight so far was seeing over 11 000 locals in full song at the Wolfson Stadium for the first Sunday festival, which included a triple-header: a club derby between African Bombers and Harlequins PE and two SuperSport Rugby Challenge fixtures that saw Border edge Boland and Western Province beat the EP Kings.
It seems the competition has proven to be a hit among the players too as Border veteran front-rower Blake Kyd has lauded the opening rounds of the tournament.
“The SuperSport Rugby Challenge is one of the best initiatives launched by SA Rugby,” Kyd told MyPlayers. “The tournament is exciting and refreshing, giving all teams a good opportunity to qualify for the play-offs.
“It’s also great to include club rugby, which is becoming very competitive on a national scale. It’s also brilliant that games are being played in our communities, especially among locals who don’t have always have regular access to watch professional rugby.
“The day at Wolfson Stadium two weeks ago was amazing. Most of the players in the Border squad come from the various communities in East London, so it was great having their family and friends showing up in the stands for a great day of rugby. Having a big crowd behind us made a massive difference as we were encouraged and motivated by the songs being sung in support, which pushed us during the closing stages of the match. We required a big effort to push through for that win against Boland. I even scored my first try in five years!
“The SuperSport Rugby Challenge is going to see South African rugby come across many more cultures in various communities. This means more people will come together for the love of the sport, while more kids will be inspired to play rugby at a younger age as they’ll see their heroes from their own neighbourhoods playing on the field.”
Border have won one of their two fixtures so far, having beaten Boland 28-24 on the opening day before losing to Western Province 50-34 in Cape Town. They now prepare for a tough derby against SWD at home this weekend.
“We were happy with our performance against Boland. We had to dig deep to come back from a half-time deficit and hold on for victory at the end,” explained Kyd. “The match against WP was disappointing because we lost focus during the second half. It’s a match we could’ve won if we played to our potential.
“We now prepare for a big game against SWD this weekend. Preparations are going well as we’re focused on doing well at home. In this tournament, we’re trying to take it game by game, but our major goal is to do enough to qualify for the play-offs.”
Meanwhile, Kyd is enjoying life on and off the field. While he scored his first try in five years this season, he achieved another personal milestone after recently getting married.
“I’m feeling very good at the moment as I’m in the best shape I’ve felt in a long time. Usually, you only feel fully fit after the third or fourth round, but I worked hard during a long pre-season,” explained Kyd. “As MyPlayers representative, I’m also doing my bit in terms of admin work for the team. I make sure the players are taken care off and they are aware of the various benefits offered to them.
“Away from rugby, life is going well too. I’m definitely enjoying married life… it’s not a major difference as we still love each other the same. But it was amazing to share the special day with my wife and have this ring on my finger.”
By Gareth Duncan