Come August 8, deaf rugby will be in the spotlight, playing the first official Deaf Test international in South Africa. And who better to play than the reigning deaf world champions, Wales?
While deaf rugby in South Africa stretches back to 1998, it was only last year that the SA Rugby Union (Saru) sectioned the SA Deaf Rugby Union as an affiliate member.
After getting official Test match status, head coach Danie Engelbrecht and the union held trials from which a squad of 26 players were chosen and ultimately donned the title of the SA National Deaf team, also known as the Deafboks.
Engelbrecht added that out of the squad of 26, at least 15 players represented the Special Schools Craven Week team and also represented the Special Schools SA rugby team.
In their build-up to the historic matches that will take place on August 8 and 12, the team faced up against teams without hearing impairment and racked up wins against the University of Johannesburg, Tshwane University of Technology as well as the Centurion Rugby Club.
Engelbrecht said through the sign language used, both on and off the field to communicate specific moves from penalties and phases, the Deafboks would be looking to play spectacular running rugby and will be hungry to cross the chalk.
Quite simply, Engelbrecht said they would be scoring tries. “We really want to go out and dominate play from start till the last minute.
“As a team we always lift our tempo by at least 30% in the second half and because of that we have a great success rate,” said Engelbrecht.
“The team are fit and can play rugby for full 80 minutes.”
Both Test matches will be played at Hoërskool Waterkloof in Pretoria and will also be live-streamed internationally.