South African juggernaut prop a triple-finalist in Momentum awards after try-rich run
By William Barron
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 8 of VARSITY News.
Babalwa Latsha is the world’s only female African rugby pro. This distinction was secured earlier in 2020 when she signed to play for Eibar Rugby Taldea in Spain. Latsha scored twelve tries in her first five matches for the club. This would be remarkable even if she did not play at prop – which she does. She was an understandable choice for Springbok captain. In this role, she contributed to the Springboks’ qualification for the 2021 World Cup.
At 26 years old, she has been the talking point of the 2020 Momentum gsport awards. These awards recognise South African women in sports specifically. Latsha is a finalist in three big-sounding award categories – those of ‘Athlete of the Year’, ‘Woman of the Year’, and ‘Global Woman in Sport’. The awards will be presented virtually on the 31 st of August, in part informed by a public voting process (which is now closed).
The ‘Athlete of the Year’ award aims to recognise a South African woman who has ‘excelled at an international or senior level’ in the year in question. In this category, Latsha is a finalist alongside Anrune Weyers and Hayley Nixon. Weyers is a two-time Paralympian, with three Paralympic medals. However, it was at the 2019 Dubai World Championships that she earned her place as a finalist – winning gold in the T47 400m (and silver and bronze in the 200m and 100m respectively). Nixon is South Africa’s current surfski champion and a prolific ocean canoe champion.
The ‘Woman of the Year’ intends to find a ‘formidable’ woman who has contributed to the growth of sport in South Africa. Latsha is in a gruesome battle here with Sarah Braude and Virginia Mabaso. Braude is the Women’s Golf South Africa President. Mabaso is the Development Co-ordinator for Rowing South Africa.
The ‘Global Woman in Sport’ is a new award, for a woman who has impacted sport globally and gone ‘the extra mile’ to develop their sport internationally. It is in this arena that we find Latsha enmeshed, bloody, in a three-way death grip showing few signs of resolving itself non-fatally, with Karla Pretorius and Mignon du Preez. Pretorius was the 2019 Netball World Cup Player of the Tournament. Du Preez is an international cricketer – captain of the Proteas in all three formats from 2007-2018 and a member of the 2020 T20 World Cup Proteas’ Squad. At the tournament she played her 100th career T20 international.