Coach Chester Williams and the University of the Western Cape are looking to unearth the next Herschel Jantjies with a unique new recruiting drive, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Scrumhalf Jantjies, who earned the Man of the Match award for his scintillating display against the Wallabies last weekend, played in the Varsity Shield for UWC under the guidance of Williams and former Springbok scrumhalf Bolla Conradie, the team’s backline coach.
UWC will again compete in the Varsity Cup next year after making their debut in South Africa’s premier university rugby competition earlier this year. However, they will always struggle to compete with the buying power of institutes such as Maties and Tuks, which is why they are basically offering trials and scholarships to anyone who think they have what it takes play at Varsity Cup level.
‘Many talented kids go missing in the system, because they didn’t play for a big rugby school. So they miss out on Craven Week and other age-group teams,’ Williams said.
‘We want to give them the opportunity to realise their potential, while also getting a good education.’
‘With SA Rugby cancelling the U19 provincial tournament, quite a lot of players have lost their provincial contracts. These players must now take decisions about their future,’ UWC said in a statement.
‘Coach Chester is offering these players the chance to have career in sport and one in life after sport. Chester is inviting the best young rugby talent to send him their CVs and at the same time explore what UWC, as one of the leading tertiary institutions in the world, has to offer.’
Jantjies is UWC’s first Springbok to come out of their Varsity Shield/Cup team, and Williams said he is not surprised that the kid from Pniel in the Western Cape seamlessly made the step up to international rugby.
‘He is a very mature person, even though he is just 23 years old. Rassie [Erasmus] also allowed him to play his game, and that’s probably why he played with such freedom and confidence,’ Williams said.
‘His passing is his strength, but he also has that feel for the game and anticipation. We all saw his support play, as well as the try he scored when he caught Australia napping around the blindside.
‘Bolla worked a lot on his kicking and that has improved a lot.’
Stormers legend Conradie, who also featured 18 times for the Boks in the early and mid-2000s, was renowned his cleaning from the base, but also the fearless nature with which he approached the game. There is a lot of that mongrel in the pint-sized Jantjies as well.
‘He was always the first guy on the field and showed a lot of leadership qualities. He always put in the extra effort and hours to be where he is now,’ Conradie said.
‘I expected a good performance. He is the type of player who sums up the situation well and his passing and cleaning are always very good. He played to his strengths.
‘He can tackle loose forwards. He is not scared to make contact and he plays with a lot of heart. That is what you want from your scrumhalf.’
* Players who are interested in a trail with UWC can email Chester Williams ([email protected])
Photo: SA Rugby