Meet Rayno Mapoe, a fleet-footed, young talent studying Political Science and International Relations at the University of Cape Town. Rayno first got into rugby after watching his older brother and cousin Lionel Mapoe play, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I’ve been playing rugby for as long as I can remember,” Mapoe said. “It must be more than twelve years already.”

He started showing promise at a young age, already playing for his school’s A-team as early as Grade One. “I don’t remember scoring my first try, but I do remember playing in Grade One,” said Mapoe.

More than a decade on and Mapoe is perfecting his craft as part of the FNB UCT team. “It’s my first year studying and playing rugby here, so I’m pretty excited. There are guys who have been in the team since last year, and they’ve been very welcoming and helpful towards us new players.”

Rugby has also benefited his life in areas off the pitch. “Playing rugby has helped me a lot,” he said. “Firstly, it’s taught me great discipline over the years and how to balance sport and academics. It’s also great working in a team environment, as it has taught me how to work well with other people.”

When asked about his aspirations are for the future and whether or not he intended to follow in cousin, Lionel Mapoe’s footsteps, his answer was simple. “Of course. I’m hoping to complete my studies and then play professionally, that’s the dream. The FNB Varsity Cup is an ideal platform to pursue both your academic and rugby dreams so I’m looking forward to the future.”

“If all goes well, I still have many years of rugby ahead of me, but I realise that eventually that chapter will end which is why I make a point of not neglecting my studies.”