Bok women's Latsha makes dream debut in Spain
CAPE TIMES – Springboks Women prop and 2019 captain Babalwa Latsha yesterday stepped out for the first time to play for an international side in what she called “A dream come true.”
Latsha has joined Spanish club SD Eibar Femenino on a three-month contract, which runs until the end of their season in April. She has an option to renew the contract.
In an interview with the Cape Times, Latsha said the sport chose her.
“I first stumbled upon it in Khayelitsha, where I’m from, when the South African Rugby Legends (Sarla) were hosting their Vuka programme.
“I never really paid much mind to it. It was when I came to the University of the Western Cape to study towards an LLB degree that I came across the sport again.
“I was asked to join the UWC Sevens team, to fill up numbers, I was never meant to play,” she said. “I’m extremely proud to be representing myself, my country and South African female rugby players,” she said.
“It’s a historic venture and I’m excited about what the future now holds for other SA women players. I’m embracing all of it and enjoying it a lot. I received a very warm welcome, and have been able to express my rugby abilities freely.”
Latsha had her first taste of international rugby in 2017 when she toured the UK with the SA Select Women’s team, where they faced the British Army and the England Academy.
A year later she made her Bok women’s debut on the team’s tour to the UK.
Making the achievement even more memorable was that she led the team in the Test against Spain.
While Springbok Women’s Sevens players have been contracted to SA Rugby for six years, Latsha’s signing is a significant first for the 15-a-side game.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said: “It was a massive achievement for any rugby player to earn their first professional contract, and to achieve this is in women’s rugby is particularly remarkable.”
Roux said due to a lack of sponsorships and funding, women’s 15-a-side rugby was still an amateur sport in South Africa.
“Despite this, Babalwa proved that with passion and dedication anything is possible. Given her academic achievements and success on the field, she’s a true inspiration to many young rugby players, both female and male, as she’s shown that nothing is impossible regardless of one’s background.”