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Rugby | SuperSport Rugby Challenge

Aphiwe Dyantyi © Gallo Images

SuperSport Rugby Challenge's Top Five Alumni



When it began last year, the SuperSport Rugby Challenge was touted as a competition in which junior players could bridge the gap to first class rugby, Super Rugby players could look for form after injuries and older players could kick-start their careers again. More than 50 players moving on to Currie Cup, Pro 14 and franchise rugby would suggest the competition is doing its job. Here are its top five alumni.

Aphiwe Dyantyi (Lions)

Age: 23

Position: Wing

Height: 1.82m

Weight: 87kg

This time last year, the Lions’ Super Rugby free-scoring try scorer (five from six games) had yet to play first class rugby, having impressed in the Varsity Cup for the University of Johannesburg. But he got his first taste of said first class rugby with the SuperSport Rugby Challenge before moving on to the Currie Cup and shooting the lights out in Super Rugby. Given that Dyantyi had all but given up on playing professional rugby by the time he turned up at UJ, his story is proof that the SuperSport Rugby Challenge is where dreams begin to come true.

Craig Barry (Stormers)

Age: 25

Position: Fullback/Wing

Height: 1.82m

Weight: 90kg

We’ve all heard of sporting comebacks, but Craig Barry’s story is that of a comeback with a vengeance. A precocious talent out of school, a combination of injuries and bad luck saw him lose his contract with Western Province and having to earn it back via playing for the University of Stellenbosch. Not only was he the player of the Varsity Cup tournament, he went on to score eight in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge (which was joint second) and made his Currie Cup debut – all within the space of four months. Now playing for the Stormers, he also found time to play for the Cheetahs on loan in the Pro 14 in the off-season. And all this began with the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

Hacjivah Dayimani (Lions)

Age: 20

Position: Eighthman

Height: 1.88m

Weight: 101kg

Dayimani, a gifted Jeppe Boys High and SA Schools player, entered the SuperSport Rugby Challenge mourning his omission from the SA Under-20 side and basically took out his frustrations on the Lions’ opposition in the competition. Dayimani is a forward and played most of his SuperSport Rugby Challenge games last year from the bench, but he still managed to score six tries thanks to his speed (he has a sub-11 100m), feet and hands. Said explosive speed, skills and game sense are the reason the Lions coaches are thinking of moving him to the backline.

Oliver Zono (Southern Kings)

Age: 26

Position: Flyhalf

Height: 1.75m

Weight: 78kg

The Border Bulldogs’ diminutive flyhalf began the SuperSport Rugby Challenge as a little-known entity. But after he finished the competition in the top five for all the points scoring charts (most points, most tries, most penalties and most conversions), he was first signed by Western Province before being moved to the Southern Kings on loan. His speed, vision and guile now have exposure to the European market as a Pro 14 player.

Divan Rossouw (Bulls)

Age: 22

Position: Fullback/Wing

Height: 1.87m

Weight: 89kg

No offence to the utility back, but his participation for the Bulls in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge was barely noticeable. Because he’s not particularly fast or outrageously skilful, it’s easy to think the former Namibian age group representative has little to offer. But his elevation to the Bulls’ Super Rugby starting line-up this year showed that while he may be low on mercury he most definitely is high on efficiency as one of those players who do the right thing at the right time.



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