SARugbymag.co.za talks to UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg about the forthcoming Varsity Cup.
Are there any changes to your squad?
Because of the Varsity Cup age restriction, we lost players like Divan van Zyl and Kobus de Kock, after they delivered excellent service to this university. De Kock has joined the Lions' Super Rugby squad and we wish him all the best. We have new players coming through the university's junior ranks and a couple of others who came to UJ to complete their post-graduate degrees, adding to the student athlete group our university's striving for.
How has the squad prepared for the competition?
Our pre-season training began in October, with the handful of players involved in the Currie Cup linking up with us early in November. We have three warm-up games against Shimlas, Wits and TUT and a scheduled training camp. Ideally, we'd like to squeeze in one more warm-up game, but nothing has been finalised yet.
What have you learned from last year's campaign?
My journey as Varsity Cup coach started in October last year and this will be my first season as a coach in the competition. Obviously the standard of the tournament is really top class and one thing I learned from watching the last few years is that you will have to be on top of your game each and every week. If you're not, you'll get beaten, beaten badly, too. It has become clear: to be successful you need a squad that is up to standard and, of course, some luck on the field with the bounce of the ball and injuries, which almost always play their part.
What are your thoughts on the dual-ref system?
As in any competition the referees will stand central in each match and play their part in having a successful competition. The Varsity Cup has experimented with various facets of the game in the past with good results. Over the years, the standard of refereeing in the Varsity Cup has been high quality, and I have no doubt it will remain so. To fully understand the impact and grasp the importance of this system, time needs to go by. It will be interesting to see how it advances the game and importantly the spectator experience.
What are your goals for the tournament?
Like most teams our goal and dream will be to get into the final, and if all goes well, end the season as the undisputed champions. But I know, to get there is a week by week process and fundamentally our focus will be to represent our university to the best of our ability.