Centurion Scarra was a product of brilliant class of 2010

rugby29 December 2023 07:25| © SuperSport
By:Gavin Rich
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Scarra Ntubeni © Gallo Images

Back in 2010, when the rest of the country was looking forward to the Fifa World Cup that was staged in South Africa that year, I paid a visit to the Western Province Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch for the purpose of doing a magazine feature.

From memory, the players interviewed included Ricky Schroeder, a scrumhalf who at that point was considered a promising prospect and a leader. He captained the WP under-19 team that won the national competition that year. He was the leader of the group back then, but sadly, Schroeder didn’t quite fulfil his potential by graduating to Stormers level and beyond that in the same way some of his peers did. Another player interviewed that day nearly 14 years ago, burly prop Frans Malherbe, is one who did.

And so did a phalanx of other players who were in the group under the tutelage back then of the Institute head Jacques Hanekom and Stef Nel, among other coaches who were involved in inspiring the careers of members of that WP class of 2010 such as Malherbe, Siya Kolisi, Damian de Allende, Nizaam Carr and…Scarra Ntubeni!

The last named and Malherbe are the last of that group still playing for the Stormers and Western Province, and the likeable 32-year-old hooker will be adding to the volume of work done by the Institute in producing future stars by playing his 100th game for the franchise when the Stormers host the Sharks in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship derby on Saturday.


Ntubeni didn’t graduate as quickly to becoming a Springbok as his mates Etzebeth, Kolisi and Malherbe done. But instead of waiting for a World Cup warmup game against Argentina in 2019 for his solitary but well deserved international cap, he could well have made his Bok debut six years earlier were it not for the bad luck that visited his career through unfortunate injuries.

Ntubeni has been through seven different serious operations since he got selected to tour with the Springboks back in 2013. He didn’t get onto the field so wasn’t capped, but he surely would have broken through that barrier and become a Bok had he spent more time on the field in the years that followed.

“There have been many tough times, times when I wanted to give up and wondered whether I should still be playing,” said Ntubeni this week when looking ahead to his landmark 100th cap.

“After having seven operations reaching 100 caps is a special achievement and it makes it feel worthwhile when I look back to 10 years ago when I dreamed about attaining this honour. I am very fortunate to have kept getting another chance. I am very excited about Saturday - it has taken me a while.”


As it so happens, Ntubeni will be up against one of his mates from that 2010 WP under-19 team, coached by Nazeem Adams, in the Sharks game. He’s played against his long time friend Kolisi before, a man who arrived in Cape Town with him on the same bus from the Eastern Cape, but this will be the first time he is playing against Sharks strongman Eben Etzebeth and not with him.

Ntubeni admitted it will be a weird experience for him, and probably for Etzebeth too.

“Eben doesn’t have a point to prove. Knowing him, he is always up for a game wherever he is playing. He is very competitive and he always wants to have a go,” said Ntubeni.

“He will ask some questions of us, and they will be digging into his knowledge of players he played with here, like me. It’s going to be weird playing against him. I have never played against him. It will obviously be challenging, but we are looking forward to the fight on Saturday.”

What inspires Ntubeni about Saturday is the elite club he will be joining.

“I’ve played with plenty of guys who’ve gotten their 100th cap for the Stormers and they are all legends of the franchise. Andries (Bekker), Jean (de Villiers), Schalk (Schalk Burger), Brokkie (Brok Harris), and Peter Grant. To finally get a 100 feels special. But the thing is to perform on the field on Saturday.”


Although he tends to play as an alternative hooker these days, with Joseph Dweba, Andre-Hugo Venter and JJ Kotze completing an impressive pool of hookder in the squad, Ntubeni remains one of the leaders in the Stormers group. And the value he brings is one of the reasons head coach John Dobson decided to extend his contract for a few more years. Loyalty to the union that he has represented for so long is probably one of his biggest attributes. And he felt he owed WP after the union stood by him through his many injuries.

“I often found myself wondering why I’ve stayed so long. But the union has been quite generous to me. They haven’t only looked after me on the field, but from day one they have looked after me off it too. If I were ever to leave Cape Town, it wouldn’t be to play for another South African team. I am very happy on and off the field with what the Stormers have done for me.”