On Monday 30 January, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) rugby team tackles North-West University, the reigning champions in the popular FNB Varsity Cup, in the first game of the 2017 Cup. A number of new faces feature in the UJ line-up under the guidance of head coach Werner Janse van Rensburg and captain Jannes Snyman. The Westdene game will be a real test for UJ.
Coach Janse van Rensburg said his side was motivated and will play to their best ability “in the challenging circumstances that the Varsity Cup brings”.
“We are at the start of a new cycle, having lost quite a few senior players who have been involved over the last four years due to them completing their degrees,” says Janse van Rensburg.
“We have two new senior additions to our team in centre Sipho Phiri and flyhalf Ewan Adams, along with some young players who will form the greater part of our squad, which will help them gain experience for future Varsity Cup competitions.
“The squad is completed by a few stalwarts who have been with us for the last few years,” he says.
The UJ mentor says their challenge would be to maintain a strong sense of self-belief.
“We know we have to handle whatever comes our way in terms of the opposition and the spotlight that will be placed on us during this competition. The test for our players will be to keep believing in what we are doing and knowing that it is good enough to get results.”
Coach Janse van Rensburg says the squad, which began preparations for the competition last year, is full of excitement as the opening game approaches.
“There are also some nerves but the guys are looking forward to what this experience will bring. We can’t wait to get going as it is a fantastic competition to play in,” adds Coach Janse van Rensburg.
The UJ squad went through strength and conditioning phases in October 2016 and continued their preparations from late November to mid-December. They also played friendly matches against the University of Pretoria and Wits University as part of their preparations.
“For each team to reach the semi-finals, they will need to have a good level of consistency and it will be crucial to play well over consecutive Mondays.”