31 October 2016 – Saint Andrew’s old boy Jared McIntyre fulfilled a dream on the weekend when he helped the club he founded, the Mustangs, to win the South African Wheelchair Rugby League title for the first time.
“We had a great tournament. It was fantastic and really special for us,” the quadriplegic, who plays for the national team, said on Monday.
In the final, the Mustangs faced Mandeville for the title and found the hosts in no mood to be beaten on their home court.
“This time around it was a bit different”
“In all our other games this year against Mandeville, we had led from the beginning. This time around it was a bit different. We were behind by one or two points throughout the first quarter,” McIntyre explained.
Then, early in the second quarter the Mustangs were dealt a bad blow when national team player Musa Simelane’s chair broke, which forced him from the court.
“Fortunately we had a guy who used to play for us, who now lives in Pretoria, who said he would play for us on the weekend. We got him on court, so that we could get Musa off and fix his chair. But that took the majority of the quarter. We fell seven points behind,” McIntyre shared.
A furious fight-back
Once Simelane returned to the Mustangs’ ranks, the team was buoyed and launched a furious fight-back. McIntyre said: “We were able to quickly catch up. Once we caught up, there wasn’t any stopping us from there. Mandeville’s demeanour changed and their shoulders dropped because we had caught up so quickly.”
The Mustangs went on to win by a 46-40 margin. “To come back from seven down to win by six, outscoring them by 13 over the final two quarters, was great,” McIntyre reckoned.
“It wasn’t a wow moment, but rather a special moment. We had the whole team, plus all the support staff, management, even some of our officials, referees, table officials and classifiers from Bloemfontein, who came up with us.
“We had a bit of a chat after the game and thanked everyone. Then, in the evening, we all went out for pizza. It was really nice, because some of the other teams joined us.”
As the Mustangs are the only club in the Free State, they will also fly the province’s flag at the National Championships at the end of the February.
“We’re confident we can go on to win more titles,” McIntyre smiled.