Record-breaking FNB TUT Vikings flyhalf Lusanda Xakwana is determined to make a career out of rugby.
The 24-year-old, who previously played for the FNB WSU All Blacks, scored 112 points in this year's FNB Varsity Shield to become the tournament's all-time leading point-scorer (225).
He was responsible for 43% of his team's points this season as the FNB TUT Vikings finished third on the log with five wins from six matches.
Xakwana’s rugby journey began when he was 12 years old at Mount Packard Junior Secondary School. His brother, Sicelo Makhubalo, is a rugby coach, so he was easily influenced to pick up an oval ball.
Xakwana started to take rugby more seriously at Dudumayo Senior Secondary School. His 1st XV performances earned him selection for Border at the U18 Academy Week and U18 Craven Week, and he went on to represent the union in the SA Rugby U20 Championship too.
The flyhalf is no stranger to the FNB Varsity Shield, having played for Walter Sisulu University from 2017 to 2019, while studying toward a Diploma in Sport Management. He was then offered a bursary to continue his studies at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Xakwana says the Vikings are like a "brotherhood" and treat each other like family.
"Playing for TUT is really great, because the university ensures the players are happy inside and outside the field of play. They take care of things like accommodation, school stuff and food, and pay match fees on time.”
Xakwana says he enjoyed the experience of playing this year's FNB Varsity Shield in a bio-bubble and didn't feel any pressure to break the point-scoring record as the team comes first.
“But breaking it and being nominated for the Back That Rocks and Overall Player That Rocks awards, and getting three Player That Rocks awards mean a lot to me," he says. "I’m so grateful for the opportunity and must say thank you to my coaches and teammates.”
One of those Player That Rocks awards came against his former university, who FNB TUT beat 64-8 in their final match of the campaign.
"It was very emotional for me; I cried," says Xakwana. "Wow, I’ll forever be grateful for that."
Regarding his immediate future, Xakwana says he will remain with the Vikings and consider an offer from a provincial union should it come his way.
“I really love rugby," he adds. "I chose it as my career and I still believe that one day I am going to make it through rugby.”
Photos: Christiaan Kotze/Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup