Premiership Rugby

URC Centurions Mark The Occassion With Crucial Wins In Derby Clashes

URC Centurions Mark The Occassion With Crucial Wins In Derby Clashes

United Rugby Championship centurions Aaron Wainwright of the Dragons RFC and Scarra Ntubeni of the DHL Stormers celebrate their 100th games with wins.

Jan 4, 2024 by Philip Bendon
URC Centurions Mark The Occassion With Crucial Wins In Derby Clashes

It has been a winning week to remember for two stalwarts who became centurions in the latest round of BKT URC matches. 

DHL Stormers hooker Scarra Ntubeni and Dragons RFC No. 8 Aaron Wainwright made their 100th appearances for their respective teams in victories over the Hollywoodbets Sharks and the Scarlets, respectively. 

The 32-year-old Ntubeni has been with the Cape Town-based Stormers for more than a decade, and head coach John Dobson has nothing but praise for his sustained service. 

“You don’t get many one-club people, people who contribute to a team like he does on and off the field,” Dobson said. “He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching, a real Stormer. It was a very special occasion for us and for him. When we said we were going to do it this week, the whole team stood up and gave him an ovation.” 

Born in East London and schooled in Johannesburg, Ntubeni made his debut for Western Province and the Stormers in 2011. 

His fine form saw him included in the squad for South Africa's 2013 end-of-year tour of Europe, but he didn’t play in any of the tests. However, he finally got his big day on the international stage in 2019 when he won his solitary Springbok cap against Argentina in Pretoria. 

It was another career high for him over the weekend, as he started against the Hollywoodbets Sharks to bring up his DHL Stormers century, running out in front of his teammates and sharing in a 16-15 victory. 

“It’s very special," Ntubeni said. "You just play, play and play, and all of a sudden, you get told you are on 97 or 98 appearances. I am very fortunate to be able to reach 100, to keep getting another chance. It’s taken me a while, but I’m very excited. There was a bit of emotion, thinking of all the tough times, all the times you want to give up, having seven operations. 

“You do sometimes go through dips during your career, but then you think about this is where you wanted to be 10 years ago, and now you are here. So, I am grateful.”

Meanwhile, Welsh international Wainwright marked his 100th appearance for the Dragons with a try-scoring BKT URC Player-of-the-Match performance in a 13-12 victory over Scarlets at a rain-lashed Rodney Parade. He has brought up his century at the age of just 26, which is a pretty remarkable achievement. 

Reaching his landmark on a winning note was all the sweeter, as it saw the Dragons bounce back from their 55-21 loss to Cardiff Rugby on Boxing Day. 

“I am chuffed to bits,” he said. “It was a massive performance from the boys off the back of a disappointing game last week. The atmosphere was incredible. There is no better place to play when the stadium is rocking like that. It gave us that extra inch, especially in the closing minutes. 

"It's about making this place hard to come to, and the fans definitely play their part in that. How noisy they were and how much they supported us was amazing. We wanted to get the result for them, and we did that. To get a win in front of a massive home crowd, I couldn’t be happier.

“The pleasing thing was how we managed the conditions. There are a lot of young boys in the team and to see them step up and play their part in the game was great.” 

It was Wainwright’s second successive player-of-the-match display at Rodney Parade, following on from his award-winning efforts in the EPCR Challenge Cup victory over Oyonnax last month. 

So, it’s no surprise the Dragons are so keen to hold on to the 43-cap Wales back-row man who is out of contract at the end of this season. 

Speaking about his future, he said: “This is my home region. I am a Gwent boy, but let's see what happens. There are going to be a lot of tough conversations to be had, but I am enjoying my rugby here at the moment, especially when we are getting wins against other regions like that. There is no better place to play.”

Credit - URC