The Lagunya Rugby Easter tournament doubled as a stirring tribute to the victims of the Motherwell Rugby Club drowning tragedy when an emotional memorial ceremony attended by SARU President Oregan Hoskins rounded off the first day's matches at the Nyanga Stadium in Cape Town on Friday.
Xolisa Nyembezi, Masixole Myosana, Arthur Peters, Avuyile Tshabalala, Lundi Ramba and Anelisa Mbuzeli lost their lives after being swept out to sea by rip currents at Port Elizabeth's Bluewater Bay following a beach training session on 24 March.
Hoskins told the crowd: “I was shocked when I heard the news and I'm still shocked. We are all shocked: families, loved ones, the community of Motherwell. But I was amazed when I heard that Motherwell decided not to cancel but to come to this tournament.
“Let us celebrate this weekend and this wonderful tournament. Let us enjoy ourselves as the six would have wanted us to enjoy ourselves. But let those who have died never be far from our thoughts.”
Lagunya president Titus Kepadisa echoed Hoskins's comments when he said: “We want to say as Lagunya that in this time of pain and tragedy, we are with you. We are here to celebrate the lives of those who have died, what has happened cannot be undone.”
The Lagunya tournament features 16 community clubs, and is being hosted by the club on the occasion of their 20th anniversary.
On the field, Motherwell began the tournament with a 24-8 loss to Cape Town club Masiphumelele.
Matches will continue at the Nyanga Stadium on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
For results and fixtures, follow SARU club rugby on Twitter: @saclubrugby
ROUND 1 RESULTS – FRIDAY 6 APRIL:
Lagunya (WP) 14 – Try: Thobela Ngonyoza. Penalties: Sandile Xasa (3).
Swallows (EP) 8 – Try: Xolani Langbooi. Penalty: Mcebisi Hini.
Langa (WP) 6 – Penalties: Zukisani Tywalemi (2).
Star of Hope (EP) 14 – Try: Sinethemba Mali. Penalties: Sivuyile Nkonki (3).
Homeboys (Border) 16 – Try: Sisa Fihlani. Conversion: Fihlani. Penalties: Fihlani (3).
Never Despair (Boland) 13 – Try: Remo Arendse. Conversion: Sherwin Dayson. Penalties: Dayson (2).
Motherwell (EP) 8 – Try: Masibulele Mungeka. Penalty: Soma Kobese.
Masiphumelele (WP) 24 – Tries: Sinethemba Zweni, Anga Nika, Ayabuhlela Madyokwa. Conversions: Sinethemba Jack (3). Penalty: Jack.
Spring Rose (EP) 37 – Tries: Zingisa April, Simphiwe Januarie (2), Lubabalo Mpongoshe, Tandile Magaqa. Conversions: Tulani Meki (3). Penalties: Meki (2).
Evergreens (Leopards) 0
Ntlaza (Border) 5 – Try: Mxolisi Moyakhe.
Swallows (Border) 6 – Penalties: Masixole Nkalitshana.
Mighty Greens (Leopards) 12 – Xolile Vanqa (4)
African Bombers (EP) 15 – Penalties: Coyi Banda (5)
Zwide (EP) 10 – Try: Lulama Ngcofek. Conversion: Zolani Mati. Drop goal: Mati.
Nqamakhwe (Border) 25 – Tries: Heinrich Arendse, Chumani Rema, Chuma Dalasile, Shane Hendricks. Conversion: Mzukisi Moyake. Penalty: Moyake.