A dedicated work ethic allied to massive support from varsity structures has seen the University of Johannesburg women's rugby players start to make a major impact on the sport. The squad, who are currently touring France, have a number of national players in their ranks, with several others on the fringe of recognition at the highest level. Team manager Tumi Leseke said many aspects had contributed to the growth of rugby at UJ, not least of them the commitment of the players and the array of support staff in place to ensure all their needs are met. "The university has played a huge role in the system we have put in place," said Leseke. "We have access to biokinetics staff as well as physios in order to aid recovery processes when players get injured. "We also pride ourselves in creating and enhancing pure athletes with the help of our sports science department, notably the team's own sports scientist Liphiwe Nxasana. "She goes above and beyond for the girls, creating workout programmes that not only enhance the players' performances but which set them apart from the rest. "Liphiwe works hand in hand with each athlete to bring out the best in everyone and the team is richer for it." Leseke also highlighted the role play played by coach Mbuyiselo Siqebengu, who has experience of sevens rugby at the highest level. She added that the system worked because of the backing of all the relevant university departments. "Our success is not a fluke but a representation of the hard work we put in, day in and day out. "It is testament to the fact that when you put your full support behind a women's team they will show you results." Besides the international players who have come through their ranks, Leseke said women's rugby had grown across the board. "In 2013 we could barely field a team of 15 and had a total of five women in the gym programme as well as having only four girls in the provincial set-up. "The only tournament we could . . .
THE SHARKS ARE VERY THIRSTI FANS SOUTH AFRICA, KWAZULU-NATAL, DURBAN, 02 APRIL 2019 – The Sharks have announced that they are true THIRSTI fans as they ratified THIRSTI Water as their official 2019 Hydration Partner. Sharks COO, Eduard Coetzee, said of their new partner, “We really like this young, disruptive KZN brand who, against all odds, entered an already saturated hydration market in 2016, or so we thought, and immediately took market share from global market leaders. This was a ‘listen to your gut risk, believe in yourself, and never say die attitude. These are core strengths that embody both brands.” Rob Hoatson, Founder and Director of KwaZulu-Natal based, THIRSTI Water, has made staggering inroads across South Africa in three short years. His brand has attracted a young, vibrant market who intrinsically bond with authentic brands as both naturally celebrate and partake with those who fearlessly pursue their passions and dreams. Says Hoatson, “The Sharks pursue excellence in all that they do. We could not have chosen a more authentic brand for THIRSTI, and a more valuable partner for the release of our Isotonic range.” #SharksHydrationPartner The Sharks are an embodiment of these values; their globally-recognised brand extends beyond the world of rugby, promoting this intrinsic lifestyle value as well as fashion, entertainment and sporting aspiration. With two dynamic brands committed to empowering people to be the best version of themselves, and embodying the values of community, hard work, pride and peak performance, this will undoubtedly be a powerful partnership. “Both brands share core values and a pioneering spirit with community being at the forefront of our endeavours. Partnering with like-minded brands, such as THIRSTI, allow us to push the boundaries even further, and we are confident that this partnership, based on excellence, innovation and common core values, will grow and deliver rewards for both parties,” says . . .
FNB Madibaz rugby captain Riaan Esterhuizen wants his team to emulate their defensive display in the semifinals when they face Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the FNB Varsity Shield final on Thursday. The match will take place at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth, kicking off at 6.15pm. It will feature the top two Shield teams this season after the Nelson Mandela University outfit went through the round-robin phase unbeaten and CPUT lost just once - to their PE rivals. The Madibaz won their head-to-head encounter 38-21, but Esterhuizen said they were well aware of the attacking abilities of their opponents, which would test their defensive systems. "I think we did really well on defence in the semifinal against University of KwaZulu Natal, not conceding a point," he said, referring to last Thursday's 46-0 win. "But we know that CPUT are a quality side and have registered a number of high scores against other teams. That shows they have a good attack and our defence will need to be on point again." He added that the Cape team liked to play at a fast tempo, but backed his team's structures to cope with what lay ahead. "The guys' hearts and attitude are in the right place for defence, as we showed against UKZN, and we will be ready for their tactics. "In the first game of the season they showed their intentions with their fast play and quick taps. It is similar to how UKZN play, so we know we need to be prepared for that." Although many of the players in a relatively young team have not appeared in a play-off before, Esterhuizen said they were excited about the opportunity. "It's true that we don't have a lot of experience in these sorts of matches so we don't quite know what to expect. "But the guys are confident enough to put up a good performance and not let anything distract them. "The fact that it is a final doesn't mean we need to change anything. The stage is a bit bigger, but the strategy we have followed in . . .
University of Johannesburg student Shandre Hoffman was crowned Miss UJ Varsity Cup when the round-robin phase of the rugby competition drew to a close on Monday. At the crowning ceremony at the UJ Stadium in Johannesburg, the industrial sociology masters student received the top accolade, with Mohau Matinketsa the first princess and Mavelous Mhlanga the second princess. The 22-year-old Hoffman, who lives in Eikenhof in the south of Johannesburg, said she had entered the Miss UJ Varsity Cup contest as she was a strong advocate of social change. "I feel it is our responsibility to help better the lives of those around us," she said. "I believe that if I have the privilege to be associated with this prestigious platform, I will be able to make a real difference on a larger scale. "Secondly, I think sport builds character to live by. It was through my own engagement in sport that I learnt the importance of teamwork. You are only as strong as your weakest link and I realised that it is beneficial to build up those around you." A personal experience in 2017 also allowed Hoffman to learn how to handle the tough things in life. "I had to go through hormone replacement therapy and this caused me to gain weight and break out in acne," recalled Hoffman. "My confidence took a hard knock and there were times when I didn't even want to leave my house, but I learned to love myself in spite of my flaws. "I saw this as an opportunity to continue to grow and love myself, while also spreading the message of body positivity to others." She added that former UJ rugby star and current Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi stood out for her as an example to others. "He was told at a young age he would not make it as a rugby player, yet he still chose to pursue his passion and worked hard to become the success he is," she said. "In life, rejection is inevitable, but Aphiwe's grit on and off the field can be a source of inspiration to pursue your dreams, despite . . .
It will be more of the same in terms of preparations by the FNB Madibaz rugby team as the FNB Varsity Shield reaches its business end with this week's semifinals. The matches take place on Thursday, with the Nelson Mandela University outfit hosting KwaZulu-Natal University at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth at 7pm. Madibaz coach Jarryd Buys said they understood the magnitude of the occasion, but they would not change an approach which had brought them six wins out of six games so far. "We know that past results don't count for anything now, but we'll not treat this game any differently to the others we have played this season," he said. "We will be following the same processes we have had in place since the first warm-up game early in the year. "Our focus is on making sure we stick to the basics and not try to do anything fancy. "What we have done so far has earned us 30 log points and we just want to make sure we improve on what we have been doing and strive to be better in the semifinals." Madibaz wrapped up the round-robin phase of the competition with a 32-9 win over Fort Hare University last Monday and have had some time off since then. Buys felt the slightly longer break had come at a good time for the squad. "I think it will help us because the last game in Alice was played in heavy rain and it turned into a forward-orientated game. "The guys' bodies were a little bit sore after that, so the extra days will definitely help. "In addition, they have had academic commitments to fulfil and it has probably worked out for the best." He added that it had given them an opportunity to focus on areas of concern they had spoken about this season and to try to improve on them. The Kwazulu-Natal side would present a huge challenge, the coach said. "UKZN stayed in the fight for a long time in our earlier game this season and we have to make sure we get the basics right from the get-go. "This is a chance for the team to . . .
University of Johannesburg student Stephen Bhasera has been honoured by his native country, Zimbabwe, for his hard work and dedication to rugby. The Varsity Cup prop, who has been sadly sidelined for the season by an injury, has been nominated for the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards in the Sports Personality of the Year category for 2019. "It is an initiative that honours Zimbabweans who reside outside of their home country and are doing commendable things in a variety of fields," said Bhasera, who will graduate from UJ with a law degree (LLB) in April. "It covers categories from business to community work to academia, sports, culture and media. "The awards take place annually to honour Zimbabweans based in five different countries and I have been nominated for Sports Personality of the Year for South Africa 2019." The 23-year-old Bhasera said he was privileged to be considered for the award. "It is a good feeling to receive the recognition, but also humbling to be named among people such as Kaitano Tembo (SuperSport United coach) and Tapiwa Mafura, who himself took the Varsity Cup by storm in 2018." With his home base being Kadoma in Zimbabwe, Bhasera lives in Atholl in Johannesburg, although he will be leaving later this year to study in the United Kingdom. Having initially received offers to attend various top law schools around the world, Bhasera chose to pursue his career in UJ. "I took that route because I wanted to exhaust my desire to play professional rugby and to play at the highest level," he recalled after leaving school at Falcon College in Zimbabwe. "Having the Lions [rugby franchise] on board in terms of a contractual commitment was the main motivation for deciding to take the SA route." He turned out for the Lions U19 team in 2015 and played for the province in the SuperSport Challenge and the Currie Cup premier division. After being part of the Young Guns set-up at UJ, he graduated to the Varsity Cup squad this year . . .
Dewey Swartbooi is ready to continue a strong rugby legacy at the University of Johannesburg after being appointed as the Varsity Cup team's head coach for 2019. The former Boland and Bulls centre takes over from Werner Janse van Rensburg, who enjoyed considerable success in his time as the Varsity Cup mentor from 2013. The 36-year-old Swartbooi, who lives in Centurion near Pretoria, paid tribute to his predecessor's efforts with UJ and said he wanted to maintain the varsity's strong rugby culture. "There is definitely a big challenge ahead of us all, but I just want the team to continue to play good rugby," he said. "As I mentioned to one of the guys, Skollie [Janse van Rensburg] has done a great job in the last few years and you have to give him credit. "I want to build on the legacy he has left and I also want to create my own legacy and work hard to take the team forward." Swartbooi comes to UJ after being involved in the Bulls junior structures for the last three years, including coaching the Pretoria University team which competed in the Young Guns varsity tournament. "This is a new chapter in my life and I am definitely looking forward to the challenge ahead. "It will be a building process and it will be a learning curve, both for me and the players. But we will definitely be focused on seeing how much we can achieve in the Varsity Cup." Having grown up in the rugby-mad region of Worcester in Boland, he added that his philosophy was to play an exciting brand of the game. "I definitely aim for a ball-in-hand type of style," said Swartbooi. "We want to have an approach of throwing it around and making it entertaining for the fans. "But we also know that winning is important so we won't be reckless in the way we approach each game." He felt he would not have any problems implementing his strategy, due to the type of rugby UJ played. "These boys are already in that mode and I want to continue with that. Perhaps we will tweak . . .
Former University of Johannesburg star Aphiwe Dyantyi hopes his meteoric rise to stardom will provide inspiration for young rugby players coming through the ranks to follow in his footsteps. The 24-year-old wing shot to prominence this year with a series of stunning performances for the Springboks, culminating in him being named the Breakthrough Player of the Year at the World Rugby awards gala function in Monaco last Sunday. Remarkably, just a few years ago he practically gave up rugby altogether. After making his mark with UJ in the Varsity Cup last year, Dyantyi's career has blossomed. He made his international debut this year and has scored six tries in 13 Tests. The talented player, though, has kept his feet on the ground, knowing that he needs to be an example to others. "I just want to keep on challenging myself to keep on improving and hopefully make a difference for our country," he said following the award announcement at the weekend. "But equally, I want to make an impact on someone else's life, someone who will see my story as an inspiration to do something great out there. That is my ultimate goal." He described his year as "more than a roller-coaster", a scenario he has been accustomed to dealing with during his career. After starring in the age-group ranks during his schooldays at Dale College in King William's Town, Dyantyi failed to make the grade in the open division and his interest in the game waned somewhat. His focus turned to academics when he attended UJ in 2012, but thankfully he was spotted by the varsity coaches when helping out in a "koshuis", or residence, league match. Firm guidance from then UJ U19 coach Mac Masina and first team mentor Werner Janse van Rensburg saw Dyantyi's interest in the game revived, providing the catalyst for his success at the highest level. Dyantyi has not forgotten those who helped him. "I've been truly blessed in so many ways with the people around me who have helped me in . . .
Former University of Johannesburg star Aphiwe Dyantyi is ready to embrace the challenge and to further his rugby career after being chosen for the Springbok squad at the weekend. The lightning Lions wing was named by new South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus in an enlarged Bok squad of 43, which will do duty in the June internationals against United States and England. Born in East London, the 23-year-old, who matriculated at Dale College in King William's Town in 2011, said it was "a massive opportunity" and that he was fully focused on making the most of it. When he joined UJ as a first-year in 2012, the furthest thing from the young student's mind was a full-time rugby career after his game seemed to have stalled at Dale. "I played in all the age-group A teams at Dale and also U13 Craven Week," he said. "But when I got to the open division, I was a year younger than the rest - for example, I was 15 in Grade 10 and 16 in Grade 11. "It was hard for me to crack it and it didn't help that I was small at the time. "But the worst thing for me is that I was not backed by anyone and given the opportunity to show what I could do. "After being used to playing for the A teams, I never got any further and it was something I had to take and to learn from." The outcome was that when he attended UJ in 2012, he had switched his focus to his academic course and only became involved in rugby again when his residence mates persuaded him to help out in the varsity's koshuis league. "I did play a few times, but it was purely for fun," recalled Dyantyi. "But the next thing, UJ asked me if I didn't want to focus more on the game and to try out for the U19s." He said there were a number of key personnel who guided him in his decisions, among them UJ U19 coach Mac Masina and first-team mentor Werner Janse van Rensburg. "The management at UJ was very good, but it still took me a while to warm to the idea. "Eventually I was offered a sports bursary and . . .
The FNB Madibaz rugby team are fired up for one final throw of the dice when they play their last league game in the Varsity Cup this year in Pretoria on Monday. Up against UP-Tuks, Nelson Mandela University captain Riaan Esterhuizen's outfit know that this is their last chance to salvage something from the season. Without a win in seven matches, Madibaz find themselves at the bottom of the log, but they could still avoid automatic relegation to the Varsity Shield if they pull off victory on Monday. They are three points behind Central University of Technology and a win over UP-Tuks could see them move into second from last, provided CUT don't win their final game against Bloem rivals Free State University. It has been a frustrating season for Esterhuizen and his charges, exemplified, he said, by their most recent match against Free State, which they lost 28-22. "We were 7-0 down early on but then we started to play in the right areas of the field and they could not absorb the pressure," said the midfielder. "We started to accumulate points through two tries, one of which was a nine-pointer, and a penalty to lead 19-7 at halftime." However, he added that a yellow card had put them on the back foot in the second half. "In addition, on our power play we couldn't manage to get the scrum under control on our ball, so that cost us dearly." Esterhuizen said the team knew there were some important factors riding on their match against UP-Tuks. "The future of the squad is at stake and we have spoken as a team about the issues that are involved," he said. "We are definitely fired up to break through for that first win this season - the guys are really hungry to achieve that. "It has been frustrating because we have been competitive in many of the matches, but we have just let ourselves down with some discipline [lapses] at crucial stages." UP-Tuks, perennial title contenders in the competition, have not had a good season, winning just . . .