UJ rugby coach Werner Janse van Rensburg applauds UJ’s fighting spirit ahead of crunch Maties clash in the Varsity Cup


University of Johannesburg (UJ) rugby coach, Werner Janse van Rensburg, has lauded his troops for the composure shown to oust what looked like a threatening Wits outfit this season, en route to booking a place in the Varsity Cup semis.

With one round to play in the pool stages, FNB UJ has sealed a top-four finish and will play their final pool match away to Maties on 27 March.

UJ, who opened their Varsity Cup account with two consecutive losses, ensured that they reached the Varsity Cup semis for the fifth time since 2011 when they beat crosstown rivals FNB Wits 28–23 in a hard-fought clash at UJ Stadium.

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Following the win, Janse van Rensburg said the mood in the camp was one of ‘gratitude and enjoyment’. “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, Janse van Rensburg 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 [and] so the motivation was still there to make the top four,” he said.

“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.” The coach added that his team’s positive attitude had played a big part in their success.

“A willingness to push ourselves [towards] 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.”

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Ahead of the semifinals on 3 April, UJ now turn their attention to their game against Maties in Stellenbosch. “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,” Janse van Rensburg said speaking on the team’s preparations.

“The challenge is massive as Maties are at the peak of their powers, but we are going to give it our best shot. We want to keep our momentum and ultimately enjoy the opportunity to play at [the] Danie Craven Stadium.”

Edited by Allan Robertson

How has your favourite Varsity Cup team fared this season? Let us know by sending a message on the City Buzz Facebook page.

Tshepiso Mametela

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