Simamkele Namba: Beyond tries and tackles, a story of inspiration


In the dynamic world of rugby, where size and physicality often define the game, some players prove that heart and determination are the true measures of greatness. Simamkele Namba, a forward for the Springbok Women’s Sevens, embodies this spirit.

Standing at 1.52 meters and weighing 63 kilograms, she might be outsized by many of her peers, but her courage and work ethic set her apart.

Inspired by compatriots like Cheslin Kolbe, Selvyn Davids, and Kwagga Smith, Namba’s journey in international rugby is a testament to overcoming odds and chasing dreams.

Namba’s commitment to her team and her sport is unwavering. At 25, she carries the weight of representing her family and country with pride.

Simamkele Namba takes on two Spanish defenders at the HSBC SVNS Perth last month

“I really want to reward the coaches for the trust they put in me by selecting me and allowing me to represent my family and country all around the world and against the best sevens players on the planet,” Namba expressed with determination.

Her journey is fueled not just by personal ambition but by a deep-seated responsibility to support her siblings’ well-being.

The Blazeboks, as the team is affectionately known, have fought hard to earn their place on the world stage. “We have a good system in place, and we have seen that it will bring results when we apply that correctly,” Namba explained.

Their resilience was showcased when they qualified for the World Series by winning the Challenger Series and later secured their spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

For Namba and her teammates, the goal is now clear: to finish in the top eight of the World Series, despite starting the series ranked 12th.

As they prepare for their next HSBC SVNS assignments in Vancouver and Los Angeles, Namba and her fellow trailblazers are eager for the challenges ahead. “The belief is there, the talent is there and the experience, which we lacked because we were not a core team in the past, is growing in every tournament we play,” she said.

Namba on the attack for the Bulls Daisies in the Women’s Premier Division.

This growing confidence is not only a testament to the players’ hard work but also to the exceptional coaching staff guiding them. “I can honestly say I am a much better player now than I was a year ago. And a better person, as my confidence grew.”

Namba’s journey in rugby has not been just about the game. It’s about making a difference off the field. Her passion for rugby was evident during her representation of the Springbok Women at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2022, where she played on the wing in fifteens.

“We arrived to face teams with big name players, but although they are respected, I don’t see them as anything other than just an opponent,” Namba said with conviction.

Her love for the physicality of rugby and making tackles is matched by her agility and ability to exploit spaces in sevens rugby.

Coach Renfred Dazel’s reminders about her strengths as an attacker have been instrumental in Namba’s recent performances.

“Coach Renfred often reminds me of my strengths as an attacker and that I should use that ability, so whenever I see an opportunity, I try to use those skills,” Namba shared. Her knack for scoring crucial tries has been a significant contribution to the team’s success.

Off the field, Namba’s rugby career has brought tangible benefits to her family. She proudly built a house for her mother and siblings in Alice, Eastern Cape, ensuring they have a secure and comfortable home.

“It is nice to know that while I am traveling the world, they have a roof over their heads and food to eat. I play to make them proud as well, and they are very happy for me,” she beamed. This sense of responsibility and love for her family drives her to excel in every match.

As the Blazeboks look ahead to the remainder of the series, with stops in North America and the Far East before the final tournament in Madrid, Namba and her teammates see challenges as opportunities. “You should never give up,” she asserted.

The journey of the Blazeboks, both individually and as a team, is far from over. “We’ve come a long way as a team, but the journey is not done, not on a personal level or as a team. We know we are getting better, and the results will show that.

There are a lot of reasons to be proud of who we are as a team, and we strive to make everyone feel the same way.”

Simamkele Namba’s story is about more than just rugby. It’s about defying expectations, overcoming challenges, and making a lasting impact both on and off the field. Her journey reminds us that in rugby, as in life, it’s not the size of the player but the size of the heart that truly matters.


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