KAMPALA- Ask every rugby player’s dream destination and chances are high they will tell you one country: New Zealand.
The home of the All Blacks and Black Ferns, New Zealand is the most successful rugby playing nation in the 15s and 7s, men and women.
The rugby culture in New Zealand is second to none; more or less a religion. Talk about the Haka dance and every rugby player would dream to witness it firsthand.
That and more is what Uganda’s Emilly Lekuru is destined to indulge in during a three-month rugby placement course she received from the International Rugby Program (IRP) at the famous St. Bede’s College, based in Christchurch, the home of Crusaders, the most famous franchise in the Super Rugby.
To make the trip, Lekuru had to part with shs25m for air tickets, visa and college fees. And through her GoFundMe and other ‘door-to-door’ campaigns, Lekuru managed to raise all the money and she flew out on Sunday.
“Finally it has come to pass. I can’t wait to reach New Zealand and learn more about this beautiful sport. I will be privileged to learn from the best in the world,” she said.
While in New Zealand, Lekuru will undergo training in strength and conditioning, nutrition, communication and mental skills plus basic rugby coaching sessions. But to crown it all, she will have a chance to feature for Christchurch Women’s RFC and test herself against the best players in the world in the New Zealand 15s league.
“Few opportunities come bigger than this. We want to thank everyone that contributed for her and I am sure she won’t disappoint,” said Helen Buteme, who introduced Lekuru to rugby as a 14-year-old in Jinja and also coaches her at the Black Pearls and national 7s team.
Lekuru, the reigning Uspa Women’s Rugby player of the year, is expected to touch down in New Zealand today. Her trip rules her out of this weekend’s Elgon Cup.