Current Blue Bulls loose forward and Komani-local, Roelof Smit (24), got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was called up to make an appearance for the Springbok squad in the starting line-up against the Barbarians in the November tests. “I felt humbled and honoured to be there. The green and gold jersey is everything to me,” says a proud Smit. As a young player who is still working his way up the SA Rugby professional scene, Smit knows what it takes to start a career in the game at school level and to continually work to secure his place in the national squad. The Hoërskool Waterkloof old-boy originally made his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2014 at the age of 21 after having been sent by The Blue Bulls Company on the Investec International Rugby Academy’s Advanced Players’ Course – an opportunity for schoolboy rugby players to learn from former and current, international and local, players and coaches. “I can’t remember a day I didn’t want to become a professional rugby player. I have no words describing my first cap. All I knew is that I wanted more,” says Smit. Smit attributes much of his success on the field to what he learnt at the academy. Former All Blacks player, commentator and coach at the academy, Murray Mexted, stands out in Smit’s mind for having taught him about one of the key elements to becoming a professional player – mental toughness. “Mental toughness for me was the key in going to the next level; you can beat someone purely at being mentally stronger. Murray taught me vital skills such as visualising what you are going to do next and, most importantly, the definition of mental toughness - the ability to perform at my maximum, every time,” fondly reflects Smit. During his time at the academy, Smit was able to learn from the rugby icons that were involved in mentoring and teaching various technical and practical aspects of the game. Interacting with these rugby greats has provided him, he believes, the leg up needed to hone . . .
A successful transition from wing to inside centre resulted in such a stellar season for University of Johannesburg rugby star Aphiwe Dyantyi that he earned selection for the Varsity Cup Dream Team this week. After an injury last year derailed his contract with the Lions franchise, Dyantyi placed his focus on the Varsity Cup this year, forcing his way into the Dream Team with several notable performances. Looking back on the competition, the 22-year-old is satisfied that the move to midfield paid dividends. "For many, this change was a bit of a shock but I'd been in discussion with the coaches and we'd been preparing for the role," he said. "I was comfortable trying out for centre and it was a decision that has really yielded good results for everyone." In October last year Dyantyi signed with the Lions but injury a month later meant he had few opportunities to prove himself. "My motivation this Varsity Cup season was to play the best I could for UJ, but I also wanted to create other opportunities for myself outside of that." Ahead of the semifinals Dyantyi had beaten more defenders (26) than any other player during the season and also made the most off-loads (19), ball carries (74) and line breaks (10) in the competition. "The tournament has been a perfect platform for me to show the coaches at the Lions what I'm capable of," said the B Com marketing student. The season got off to a bad start for UJ as they lost their first two matches but an 18-17 win over Tuks proved to be the turning point for the team. "My standout occasion of the season was the game against Tuks," said Dyantyi. "We were coming back from two losses to play a team that had been unbeaten and it was during this game that we really managed to turn our season around." The team put together a five-match winning streak which came to an end when they lost 65-19 to Maties. However, they still qualified for the semis, where they were again beaten by . . .
IFNB-NMMU rugby captain Kevin Kaba said he was looking forward to running out alongside players who, until now, have been his opponents when he fills the number eight jersey for the Varsity Cup Dream Team next week. The Madibaz star was included in the Varsity Cup side when it was announced after the final in Pretoria on Monday. The team will play the Junior Springboks in Stellenbosch on Tuesday. "It meant a lot to me that I was selected for the Dream Team because it was one of my goals when I went into the Varsity Cup tournament," said Kaba, the only Madibaz player in the squad. He added that the team included a number of players he was excited to be playing alongside, including Maties flank Kobus van Dyk and University of Johannesburg backline ace Aphiwe Dyantyi. Van Dyk played Super Rugby for the Stormers last year and Kaba said he was eager to learn from him. "It will be really valuable to play alongside someone of that calibre and with that experience," said the 22-year-old. "Dyantyi has also had a successful season so it will be nice to see what it's like being on his side for a change." In the Madibaz's 36-28 defeat to UJ in the Varsity Cup earlier this year, Dyantyi was named The Player That Rocks for his match-winning performance. A third-year B Com accounting student, Kaba said he was also looking forward to starting behind what he termed a "dominant tight five". "The tight forwards selected for the Dream Team have been incredible this season, so it will be great to be behind such a strong formation. "In general I think the team is amazing and it's a dream to be a part of it." The Madibaz skipper said he was ready for the challenge. "I feel our side have some really good players who could have been Junior Boks themselves, so I think we're in for a real strength versus strength encounter." After returning from a knee injury last season, Kaba said he was happy to have had such a strong comeback. "Last year I had quite a big setback in my rugby . . .
After two early losses, FNB University of Johannesburg captain Jannes Snyman said a strong sense of brotherhood in the team enabled them to qualify for the Varsity Cup semifinals. The UJ outfit lost their first two games against reigning champions NWU-Pukke and 2015 holders Shimlas, but then turned their fortunes around with five wins in a row to finish third on the final log. This has earned them a semifinal shot against the second-placed Maties team, to be played in Stellenbosch on Monday. Looking back on their season, Snyman said it was their overall cohesion and a sense of camaraderie that contributed towards the team's reform. The 23-year-old hooker said they knew they would have to change things after those opening losses - 16-12 against Pukke and 47-29 to Shimlas. "To do that, we needed to come together and start playing as a team," said Snyman. "When we lost those games, it was definitely a lowlight, but it created a strong bond in the squad." The fact that they managed to claw their way back to qualify for the play-offs supported Snyman's belief that anything was possible. Although they face a daunting task against the in-form Maties team, who defeated them in the final league game this week, the skipper felt their attitude could make the difference. "When you lose two games to come back and qualify for the semifinals, it really makes you feel that you can achieve anything you set your mind to." Snyman, a final year logistics management student, said he had really enjoyed the season with UJ. "I think it is because of the closeness we have as a team. "We need to remain focused and continue to train hard as I would really like to reach the finals for the first time with UJ and hopefully have some great memories which I'll be able to look back on." The log-leading Tuks team will play Shimlas in the other semifinal on Monday. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
When the final whistle sounded over her career in netball, one of NMMU's most celebrated sports managers was more than ready to "tackle" the next challenge head on. After more than 20 years at the helm of the Port Elizabeth university's netball club, Theresa le Roux welcomed what she termed a "man's job" with open arms and a vision when she recently took over the reins of the FNB Madibaz Rugby Club. "I acknowledged that I could not achieve anything more within netball and felt that a change of focus would offer a new opportunity." Under her astute guidance, the SPAR Madibaz Netball Club notched up notable successes in tertiary and club tournaments all over the country and even abroad. One of the highlights, she said, was when the "class of 2005" returned unbeaten from their tour to Birmingham in England. The Madibaz also made the Eastern Province club league their own during her stint in charge, winning it 24 times since the early nineties. Le Roux has mentored several players who went on to represent the Proteas, most notably Lana Krige, former captain Zanele Mdodana and Zanele Vimbela. Not one to dwell on the past, she said her focus was squarely on the job at hand, which came with its fair share of rucks and mauls. "Finances are always a challenge and the uncertainty surrounding Eastern Province rugby makes it difficult to recruit the right student-athletes." However, she believed she had a vision that would put the club on the road to overcoming a number of hurdles. "I think it is important to establish a good and stable coaching and management environment to help take the club forward. "And, when it comes to development, I would like to see us making our mark in the EP Grand Challenge league as well as growing the women's team," she said. "Until recently, our focus has been on Varsity Cup as university teams don't qualify to play in the national club champs." Le Roux said her time in netball and managing other sporting . . .
The FNB NMMU-Madibaz will be determined to finish their Varsity Cup rugby campaign with a flourish when they play Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein on Monday. While the squad have faced some tough challenges this season, coach David Maidza said they remained positive and were eager to prove a point against CUT, who have lost all seven matches so far. Madibaz opened with a victory against UCT, but have been winless since then, turning Monday's clash into a key showdown between two sides at the bottom of the log. Despite CUT's record this season, Maidza said they would not make the mistake of taking anything for granted. "We want to make sure we do well in our last game, but will be up against a side also motivated to finish on a high," he said. "They are very similar to us in that they never give in and they will give it their all in front of their home crowd." The Madibaz mentor said his players had always produced their best efforts this season and praised them for their positive attitude. "Although we have not achieved the desired results, it has not been through a lack of willingness and commitment by the players. "These young men have left their last ounce of effort on the field and I am proud of them for being competitive in each outing." Maidza said they had been working hard to build for the future. "Our main focus since 2015 has been to have a stable squad of student-athletes. "I feel we can be proud to say that if all goes our way we will have no less than 15 graduates by the end of 2018, which means we will have continuity with our squad until 2019." Maidza said he was also encouraged by the backing they had received from the varsity. "There is a whole lot of support for us from the dean of students Luthando Jack, director of sport Yoliswa Lumka and from the top echelons of the university." Meanwhile, the Madibaz Young Guns failed in their bid to qualify for the Varsity Cup semifinals when they lost . . .
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 . . .