In a feature from the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, we caught up with former Cheetahs and Blitzboks player Fabian Juries.
A flying wing in his heyday, Fabian Juries was once the standard bearer of the Springbok Sevens team. He is still ranked as ninth highest international try-scorer in the World Rugby Sevens Series, with 179, alongside compatriot Cecil Afrika, as well as the 29th highest point-scorer on the sevens circuit with 925.
In a South African context, only Seabelo Senatla has scored more tries than him; and he stands fifth in points scored, behind Afrika, Branco du Preez, Justin Geduld and Senatla.
‘I never thought I’d make it in sevens. Growing up, I used to watch Waisale Serevi play for Fiji and dream of playing against him,’ Juries tells SA Rugby magazine.
‘Luckily, I made the EP sevens team for a provincial tournament in Durban and that’s where the Springbok Sevens selectors saw me. Andre Pretorius and I were the only players from that competition who were invited to join the Blitzboks. Before I knew it, there I was competing against Serevi in tournaments all over the world.
‘Our first win in series in New Zealand in 2002 was memorable. We beat the Kiwis in the semi-final and defeated Samoa to win our maiden title there. The records I set don’t mean so much to me. It’s the experiences I had and memories I made throughout my sevens career that are important.’
Yet, apart from all he had achieved in the green and gold of the Blitzboks, he also turned out for six out of the 14 provincial unions in South Africa. A journeyman extraordinaire, the man from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, had stints for his home union Eastern Province, the Bulls, Cheetahs, Griffons, Western Province and Griquas.
‘I had a few good years with the Cheetahs. We made it to the Currie Cup final in 2009. I had the best time in Bloemfontein.’
‘One specific game that stands out for me was when the Mighty Elephants beat the Bulls in 2002 Currie Cup. They were the best team around and eventually won the Currie Cup, and we were the only team to beat them that season. I remember they led by 20-odd points at one stage but we came back strongly and then Paul Treu scored in the corner for us to win the game at the last minute. It was one of the best days of my career.’
LIFE AFTER RUGBY
After hanging up his jet shoes in 2011, Juries were unemployed for six months before landing a coaching job at Herbert Hurd Primary school in Port Elizabeth.
‘It was a difficult time because I had no money coming in. That’s why I hope young players who earn big salaries now invest some of that money wisely. They’ll struggle if they don’t, and it’s a tough situation to find yourself in.’
Juries spent five years as the head of rugby at Herbert Hurd, while also working part-time with the Kings sevens squad and the Nigerian national sevens team but, in 2017, the family made the difficult decision to emigrate to Dubai, where his wife, Lucinda, was offered a teaching job.
‘We decided it’s time for a change. When my wife took the job in Dubai, I contacted the UAE Rugby Federation to ask about potential employment. I was fortunate because they said there was a rugby development officer job available. I worked across all the age-grade levels at schools and clubs in Dubai.’
Juries then moved on to the prestigious Apollo Perelini Rugby Skills Academy in Dubai.
Juries married Lucinda in 2003 and they have two daughters, Kirsten and Keshia.
‘The girls live in South Africa because they go to school there. The education system here is different and the schools are expensive so we decided to keep them in schools back home.’
‘When they are in the UAE, we love to go to the beach, the waterparks and our favourite amusement park, Ferrari World. Apart from Keshia doing gymnastics, they are not interested in sports,’ Juries says.