University of Johannesburg rugby coach Werner Janse van Rensburg has commended his players for holding their nerve under pressure to qualify for the Varsity Cup semifinals. With one round left in the first phase of the competition, FNB UJ have sealed their spot in the top four and will play their final league match against Maties on Monday. The UJ outfit, who lost their first two matches, made sure of reaching the semifinals for the fifth time since 2011 when they defeated Johannesburg rivals Wits 28-23 in a hard encounter this week. Janse van Rensburg said the mood in the camp was one of "gratitude and enjoyment" following Monday's victory. "It was a tough start to the campaign and the pressure was on more than ever before in the build-up to the Wits game," he said. "So for the guys to pull through was very satisfying." Despite their sluggish start to the competition, he said the Varsity Cup generally showed that the top four sides were only decided towards the end of the league phase. "We knew this year wouldn't be any different so the motivation was still there to make the top four. "But for us we had to break it down week by week and as the journey went along, our belief that we could do it started to strengthen." Janse van Rensburg said their positive attitude had played a big part in their success. "That and a willingness to push ourselves to the end helped us get through. A tight scrap like the one against Wits is always determined by your attitude and for us it was the key factor." With the semifinals to be played on April 3, UJ now turn their attention to the final league game against Maties in Stellenbosch. Janse van Rensburg said they would not be changing their preparations. "We will approach it the same as every Monday, but we know we have a lot to improve on in terms of our basics and in putting together a solid performance," he said. "The challenge is massive as Maties are at the peak of their powers, but we are . . .
24 March 2017: Nelson Mandela Bay residents, and visitors to the friendly city, are in line for another sporting feast on Saturday, 25 March 2017, as the Southern Kings prepare to take on the Gauteng based - Emirates Lions. “The Kings have been hard at work in preparation for the clash and intend to give the visitors a run for their money,” said Luvuyo Bangazi, spokesperson for the Mandela Bay Development Agency, operator of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Tickets for the clash have already gone on sale at participating branches of Postnet, as well as, selected Edgars, CNA and Jetmart outlets in and around Port Elizabeth, and the Greater Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, added Bangazi. The stadium has also recently re-launched the fan park which promises an energetic line-up of outdoor fun. Live entertainment will be provided by the likes of DJs, Dee Steyn and PJ Liebenberg. This is coupled with the hunt for the most original and creative pictures of fans. To enter, fans are required to tag the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth and use the hashtag #Ourstadium when they upload photos or videos on Facebook, of their experiences and crazy moments during the upcoming fixture. “We want to ensure that every person who visits the stadium has the best possible experience, from the teams on the field to the spectators who come to watch them,” added Bangazi. Make a day of it at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium by joining in the festivities. Gates open at 13:00. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
The FNB Madibaz Young Guns will take a positive approach into their make-or-break FNB Varsity Cup rugby encounter against the unbeaten Stellenbosch outfit on the NMMU B field on Monday at 14:15. Following a bonus-point win over UCT last week, Madibaz stumbled somewhat on Monday when they lost 26-15 to the Cape Town side in their return match. This means they are lying third in the section, but coach Zane Bosch said they could still figure in the play-offs if they put in a winning performance against Maties. "We know it will not be easy against a strong Maties side but there is a positive spirit in the camp and the players are fired up to do well in this game," he said. "If we are able to pull off a win, we will still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the semifinals if some of the other results go our way." The three section winners - Maties, Free State and UP-Tuks - have qualified for the last four and they will be joined by the best second-placed team. Bosch said they were looking forward to playing on their home ground on Monday and although they were well beaten by Maties in their earlier game, he took some positives from that encounter. "We competed well in the scrums and lineouts and were able to score a few tries. But our defence was lacking." That was Madibaz's first game of the season and Bosch said he had seen a "vast improvement" in the team's performances since then. He said, however, he would be calling for greater discipline from his players after they were punished with three yellow cards against UCT this week. "Playing into the wind, we trailed only 8-2 (penalties in Varsity Cup are worth two points) at halftime, but then we had three yellow cards and that really cost us dearly," said Bosch. "We know we have our backs to the wall against Maties but the guys are determined to show what they can do." The match will start at 2.15pm and will be followed by the Steinhoff Koshuis premiership match between . . .
A major Varsity Cup rugby derby is looming in Gauteng on Monday when in-form teams University of Johannesburg and Wits square up in a televised clash at the UJ Stadium. The home side are in the better position on the log, having risen to third place following four wins in a row, while Wits, with three wins and three defeats, are in sixth place after the seventh round of the competition. UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg is preparing his troops for a serious scrap, noting that the last time they played Wits in the Varsity Cup resulted in a narrow win in 2014. "Firstly, we are grateful just to be in our current position and we are obviously excited to be involved in a big derby on Monday," he said. "They are a team at the peak of their powers with a great attitude and intent. They will be solid in all aspects of the game, which will force us to step up a further five per cent from our previous performances." The UJ coach said he would be urging his players not to get ahead of themselves, knowing that anything can happen in this competition. "We have to stay true to what we do because this is a new week and history counts for nothing. "We have to be at our best and, as a unit, have the willingness to go the extra mile." Janse van Rensburg said playing at home would not necessarily give them any major advantage because the nature of the Varsity Cup meant teams had to learn to perform under a variety of conditions. After suffering two losses early in the season, UJ maintained the momentum they had built up from three successive wins with a resounding 40-12 win over UCT in Cape Town this week. It was a result which Janse van Rensburg described as "very enjoyable" after the team executed their game plan to near perfection. "We had a plan of how to approach the extreme wind conditions at UCT which we gradually started to introduce about three weeks ago," he said. "We were grateful that most of it worked effectively on the day and the . . .
The FNB NMMU-Madibaz Young Guns rugby team will have a spring in their step when they travel to Cape Town on Sunday for their Varsity Cup showdown with UCT on Monday. After losing their opening game to Maties, the Madibaz hit back with a 39-34 win against the Cape Town outfit in Port Elizabeth on Monday. They crossed for five tries to pick up a bonus point and coach Zane Bosch said they would be looking for a repeat performance in the return game. "We were very happy with our showing, scoring five tries to UCT's four," he said. "After looking at the logs following the game, we are the best second-placed team in the three pools." The pool winners will qualify for the competition semifinals, along with the team with the best record among the section runners-up. Bosch said it was essential, therefore, they registered a second win over UCT, with a bonus point. The Cape Town side have yet to win a game, having also lost twice to Maties. He added that their team had been disrupted before this week's UCT clash because tighthead prop Daniel Voight had fallen ill in the warm-up and was unable to play. "This meant we had to use two loosehead props, which badly disrupted our scrumming. From that we conceded a penalty try after a scrum close to our line. "We also had a penalty try ruled against us after collapsing a driving maul, but generally speaking our performance was much improved." The Madibaz coach said they had battled to find their rhythm in their first match against Maties because of their late start to the season. However, he added he was satisfied with the team's effort against UCT and he felt that another full haul on Monday would give them a good chance of making the play-offs. Bosch said they had named the same squad for the return match against UCT. "But this time Daniel Voight will be there to take his place in the starting line-up," he said. Madibaz, who will fly to Cape Town on Sunday, will finish off their pool matches . . .
University of Johannesburg rugby coach Werner Janse van Rensburg is not getting carried away by his team's results despite an impressive turnaround in the Varsity Cup. After losing the first two matches, UJ have put themselves back into contention for the play-offs with three wins on the trot. Their most recent result saw them hold off a strong challenge from NMMU-Madibaz, with wing Aphiwe Dyanti earning the Player That Rocks award. They will be aiming to continue that form against UCT in Cape Town on Monday, but Janse van Rensburg said they knew there were no guarantees. "It's very simple to keep our feet on the ground because the history of this competition has shown that any team can win on any given Monday," the UJ mentor said. "So our wins in the last three weeks will mean nothing to UCT in their preparations as they will believe that they can win. "As it is an away game nothing but our best will be good enough to get us over the line. Ikeys have ample fighting spirit and Monday will be no different." Janse van Rensburg added they would not be looking too far ahead in the competition. "For instance, our focus now is just to be as good as we can in our next training session in preparation for the match." He said the victories they had achieved after their slow start had instilled a sense of self-belief in the squad. "We have been growing as a team and had some luck, but ultimately we have executed our skills more accurately and been more consistent. "The momentum we have gained has helped because confidence in the system is slowly spreading to everyone in the team." The UJ coach said he had adopted a sense of realism in his coaching philosophy, understanding that you could not win all the time. "The first reality is that you will lose at some stage," he said. "It has not been a case of doubting, but rather understanding where we are as a new team and trying to learn from our mistakes. "The quicker this happened the . . .
Coach Zane Bosch wants to see an improved defence from the FNB NMMU-Madibaz Young Guns in their crucial Varsity Cup rugby encounter against UCT on the NMMU B field on Monday. With only one match under their belts - an opening loss to Stellenbosch - the Madibaz have had precious little game time this season, but Bosch said it had given them an opportunity to work on their skills. "Unfortunately, we got off to a bit of a late start and only had three weeks of preparation before the Maties game," said the Madibaz coach. He pointed out that Stellenbosch were a powerful unit with several SA Schools players in their ranks and that they had taken some positives from the match. "We did well in our lineouts and scrums and were good with the ball in hand, but our defence was lacking. "However, that was our first game and we have put in a lot of work in that department. We have also been working hard on our skills over the past three weeks." Following the 79-20 defeat, he said victory would be crucial against Ikeys on Monday as the three pool winners, plus the best-placed second team from the pools, would qualify for the semifinals. "We have to try to beat UCT and target a bonus point as well. They won the U21 league in Cape Town last year, so it won't be easy." He explained that Madibaz had been grouped in a pool with Maties and Ikeys, playing each team in home and away matches. "After Monday's game we travel to Cape Town for the return match against UCT and then finish off against Maties at home two weeks later." Ikeys have lost both their matches to Maties, who are sure to qualify for the semifinals as the pool winners. Bosch said a few players released from the senior Varsity Cup squad would bolster their team for the Ikeys encounter. "We also have players like Michael Botha, a real talent from Selborne College, who can make a big impact. He can play fullback or flyhalf, while lock Ruben le Roux and prop Sandi Msengana will be other key . . .
Madibaz sevens rugby star Eloise Webb will get another opportunity to display her skills at the highest level when she jets off to the Vancouver Rugby Festival this week. The third-year education student at NMMU in Port Elizabeth will make her second appearance for South Africa in the Canadian tournament, which takes place from March 9 to 10. The East London born player made her debut against Australia in the Dubai leg of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series in December. Although the South Africans suffered a 38-5 loss, the young flyhalf said the experience boosted her confidence. "My mentality as a player changed because I realised that we are capable of playing against teams that we normally only see on television," she said. "We finished eighth after losing to New Zealand in the quarterfinals, but for a team that was only there by invitation and not one of the core teams, we felt it was an excellent result." Webb explained that eleven regular teams and one qualifier compete in each leg of the world series to make up the full complement of 12. In April, the team will head to Hong Kong for the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series qualifier, where the winners will qualify as one of the core teams for the 2017/2018 series and also earn an entry into the final event in France this June. Webb said the team had been training hard to improve their fitness and overall skills. "We train three times a day and each day consists of two field sessions and gym. Our focus is not only on individual skills, but on the team as a whole." Despite only getting the better of the United States in their six matches in Dubai, Webb believed their progress would be evident in the coming weeks. "I feel that we have worked hard and if we carry this forward we should do well." She said their 26-7 victory over the US was something positive to focus on in future matches. "It shows that we are capable of competing against top teams on the world circuit - we . . .
The University of Johannesburg gave themselves hope for the future when they registered a morale-boosting win over northern rivals UP-Tuks in a thrilling Varsity Cup rugby encounter in Johannesburg on Monday. The home team shrugged off successive losses to NWU-Pukke and Free State for their first win of the season and it will provide motivation for them to continue to show progress. Flyhalf Divan Nel was named the Player That Rocks after kicking six penalties to give his team a narrow 18-17 win. Tuks had a chance to win the match after scoring a try in the dying seconds of the game, only for the conversion to go wide. Coach Werner Janse van Rensburg was delighted with the team's effort as it was UJ's first victory over Tuks in the Varsity Cup since 2010. "What impressed me is the character the players showed," he said. "There was a lot of pressure on them after losing the first two games and they had received much criticism. Overcoming this, along with the home crowd support, was very satisfying to see." Although Tuks have dominated matches between the two sides in recent years, Janse van Rensburg said they had focused on improving a number of aspects in their play from the first two games. "We knew if we could do this and gain some momentum, we would be in with a chance. "Our defence, the urgency shown by the players to contribute throughout the game and the protection of the ball, especially when we were a man down, were important factors in achieving the win." Following their earlier setbacks, Janse van Rensburg said they had focused on a number of aspects. "We needed better composure to cut down the error rate and, overall, for the players to serve the team and not themselves." He added it was difficult to single out any players on the night because "I think everyone made a huge step up in their attitude". The UJ mentor said he would be looking for better discipline from his players in their remaining matches. "Our . . .
FNB NMMU-Madibaz skipper Kevin Kaba is banking on his team's "never-say-die" attitude to help them overcome a tough period after two successive losses in the FNB Varsity Cup rugby competition. The Port Elizabeth university have faced formidable opponents in NWU-Pukke and UP-Tuks in their last two matches, but Kaba is determined to encourage his teammates to play to their potential. They face another demanding encounter when they take on Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch on Monday. "It's been tough going down in the previous two games, especially in the manner in which we did," said Kaba as he looked back on their season so far. "But the team realise that these things are part of the game and we need to get ourselves back to the level we know we're capable of playing at." Despite the setbacks after a fine opening win over UCT, Kaba said he had been encouraged by the team's approach to their matches. "The guys' commitment and an attitude of always playing to the final whistle have been big positives and something that can't really be coached." The eighth man, who was the Player That Rocks in the UCT game, said they had already learnt some valuable lessons following the first three rounds of Varsity Cup action. "The main one has been how big a difference the so-called small things can make on the field. "For example, guys sticking to their roles on attack and being disciplined on defence are the sorts of things we realise we have to execute more effectively." He added they would place a strong focus on adhering to their roles, as well as aiming for better ball retention. "We knew how tough the competition would be before we started, but we just have to stick to our plans and work from there." Kaba said a number of players had stood out so far, but he stressed that their main focus was to deliver consistently good team performances. Looking ahead to Monday's clash against Maties, he said they knew they would have to be . . .