UFH - Rugby - NtyatyamboMkhafu (Women's Coach) (FSC)

Former Blues stalwart Ntyatyambo Mkhafu is the man behind a successful Fort Hare women’s rugby team continually striving to elevate themselves to new hights.

The Alice varsity outfit have already made their mark on the national scene, having twice been crowned South African club champions.

“The goals we have set ourselves are very simple,” Mkhafu, who plied his trade for the Northern Free State Griffons age-group teams before linking up with the Fort Hare Blues, explained Mkhafu.

“We just want to get better in each and every game we play.”

As a utility forward of yore with a preference for the number eight jersey, the 33-year-old represented the Blues in the Varsity Shield until reaching the age limit of 25.

Then he made a serious move into coaching.

“Ever since I became involved in the game, the aspect of coaching was one thing I often thought about,” Mkhafu remembered.

UFH - Rugby - NtyatyamboMkhafu (Women's Coach) (FSC)

Fort Hare rugby players go through their paces under the guidance of coach Ntyatyambo Mkhafu. Photo: Supplied

“When I was still playing for the Blues, I would help the women’s rugby team in their practice at 4pm before our session at 5pm.”

His helping hand cultivated a personal interest in women’s rugby that culminated in him taking over as head coach.

A sense of togetherness is at the forefront of his mind as he drives his team into the future.

“Besides striving to improve all the time we need to create unity in our ranks so we can all work together to become one of the best university teams in the country.

“We strive for consistency in everything we do and are willing to learn new things to improve our way of playing the game.”

Mkhafu’s contribution to women’s rugby at Fort Hare is evident in the growth of the sport.

In previous years up to 35 players turned up for training sessions while this season has spawned up to 55 takers at any given time, with new faces joining every week.

The coach attributes a slice of this growth to the efforts of the university’s head of sport, Loyiso Lange, who is always close by with the necessary support.

A number of successful seasons has seen a sisterhood develop among the players and Mkhafu is banking on that team spirit to pay handsome dividends going forward.

Besides winning the club champs (2018 and 2019), they were crowned Border champions (2018 and 2019) and finished runners-up in the Varsity Sevens (2019 and 2022) as well as the USSA national champs (2018, 2019, 2022).

They also played in the inaugural FNB Women’s Varsity Cup this year, losing to Stellenbosch in the semifinals.

“Also, we were invited to participate in the Lyon (France) sevens tournament in 2019 and 2022, which was a great opportunity for us to continue our development.”