Industrial Engineering Student to compete in Touch Rugby World Cup

Industrial Engineering Student to compete in Touch Rugby World Cup

Ella Potterton, a second-year Industrial Engineering student, will represent South Africa in the Touch Rugby World Cup in Nottingham, England, from 15-21 July 2024. Ella and her Mixed Open team will compete against Scotland, the Cayman Islands, Japan, Germany, Chinese Taipei, and New Zealand.

Ella answered some questions about this remarkable achievement.

Why did you choose to study Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University?

I am studying Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University because I have always liked to challenge myself, and this degree allows me to do so. I’ve also always enjoyed maths and physics, so engineering seemed to be a good option for me!

How do you manage to balance your studies and your professional touch rugby career?

While balancing my studies with my sport and training can be incredibly difficult, it’s not impossible. I have learnt great time management skills and the importance of picking your battles. Determining what requires more of my attention at any given time can be tricky, but I have come to terms with the fact that sometimes I won’t be able to complete certain tasks to the standard I would like them to be. What I try to remind myself is the most important thing is to give everything my best shot, because even if I am not completely satisfied with the outcome, I know I have given my all considering sacrifices I need to make.

How do you think your Industrial Engineering modules and way of thinking contribute to your personal performance on the field and the strategy of your team?

“As with all engineering, industrial engineering really teaches you techniques you need to solve problems, often while thinking outside the box. This helps me with my touch rugby because it is a constant reminder that there is not one set way to approach an issue you might face.”

Instead, you need to assess the situation in front of you and adapt your approach accordingly. On the other hand, playing in a mixed team has given me the tools I will need to work as a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field!

How does it feel to be selected to play for your national team, and what does this achievement mean to you? Were there specific players who mentored you?

Ever since I was a little girl it was my dream to represent my country for sport. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do so, and even more honoured that it is for a sport that I completely adore. Touch rugby has taught me the benefits of working together with a team and it has allowed me to create amazing bonds with so many awesome people. It means everything to me to be able to give back to a sport that has already given me so much. And I will be eternally grateful to my South African coaches for all they have taught me. I also had two brilliant coaches, Jabulani Zuma and Sange Matebese, two years ago. I have always admired them as players, so being coached by them and now getting to play with them is such a cool feeling.

What advice would you give to other student-athletes who aspire to excel in both academics and sports?

As I mentioned previously, time management is of the utmost importance. However, I also think it is important that you enjoy the sport you are competing in. This way, your training becomes a release, or a break from studying, and it doesn’t feel like something you need to sacrifice time for.

Congratulations, Ella Potterton! Best of luck to you and your team!


The South African Mixed Open pool fixtures are as follows:

16 July 2024
09:50 Scotland
14:00 Cayman Islands

17 July 2024
13:10 Japan
18:10 Germany

18 July 2024
11:30 Chinese Taipei
16:30 New Zealand

(Article by the Department of Industrial Engineering)