Sipho Metula built WSU rugby from the ground up, culminating in their inclusion into the Varsity Shield in 2017 and coming close to Varsity Cup promotion in 2020.WSU "All Blacks" caused a stir when they performed New Zealand's Haka before their matches. Metula played junior Border cricket with Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Justin Kemp.
Late former Walter Sisulu University (WSU) head coach Sipho Metula was described as someone who went far and beyond to the help young players.
Metula, who coached WSU "All Blacks" into Varsity Shield prominence, died on Monday after lengthy illness at the age of 43. Current WSU coach Akhona Mgijima said his predecessor and mentor was someone with an undying passion for the sport and the development of students from under-privileged backgrounds.
"He built WSU rugby from the ground up," said Mgijima.
"The university was nowhere in terms of rugby and when he joined in 2008 it had no team. He recruited players from various villages around East London and he looked after them.
"He used to supply players with food and groceries using his own money. He used his own resources to go recruit players as well. He gave a lot of players, who might not have had them, opportunities to study and play rugby.
"He would scout Sunday league competitions and Easter heritage tournaments, looking for one or two talented players. He'll be remembered as someone who gave black African children an opportunity to play in an organised rugby institution and to get degrees and graduate."
Metula's All Blacks came into the Varsity Shield for the first time in 2017 as a boisterous, loud, singing and entertaining group that caused a stir with their pre-game renditions of New Zealand's famous Haka.
Many felt they were misappropriating real All Black and Maori culture but Metula saw it as a tribute to the sport's historically great team.
But his rationale was to get his boys to firstly entertain the crowds that filled out the Monday and Friday night matches and to promote an exciting, brave style of rugby. WSU came to within a few points of qualifying for the Varsity Cup this year but lost out to Nelson Mandela University Madibaz after promotion-relegation laws were changed.
"All you see in the university now, it was all Sipho's work," Mgijima said.
"He was passionate and he dedicated his time to developing these young players. He specialised in fitness; so he would get his team very fit.
"He was also an All Blacks supporter and that's how this Haka thing came about. He started watching a lot of All Black games, trying to come up with a game plan that would suit us. He wanted us to play running rugby.
"I'd come to his office and find him watching old All Blacks videos and he would say to me, 'We have to study and do these moves'. It took us five years to make it to the Varsity Shield but we achieved it, even though we still don't have resources."
Metula played junior Border cricket in 1994 with Proteas Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Justin Kemp.
After starting out as a cricket coach, he moved into coaching rugby, where he had his biggest influence on WSU.