23 June 2021 | Story Ruan Bruwer | Photo Johan Roux
Ox Nche during his playing days for the Shimlas in 2015. He might make a return to the Springbok team after three years.

It will be a small reunion for a couple of ex-Shimlas when almost the full Springbok squad gathers at Shimla Park this week.

This will then be the third week of training, but for the first time with the majority of the 46 squad members, as most players have finished their provincial and club commitments. They are preparing in Bloemfontein for the upcoming test season, which includes a test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Ox Nche (Shimlas 2015 and 2016) and Coenie Oosthuizen (2008) are members of the squad from which a Springbok and a South African A team will be chosen.

Both have represented the Springboks before – Nche in a single test in 2018, and Oosthuizen in 30 tests between 2012 and 2017.

Apart from the two players, there are three former University of the Free State students in the coaching staff. Rugby World Cup winning coach, Rassie Erasmus, is now the director of rugby at the South African Rugby Union, while former Bok defence coach (in 2018 and 2019), Jacques Nienaber, was promoted to head coach last year. The Springboks have not played a test under him yet.

The two first worked together in the Shimlas U20 team, where Erasmus was the captain and Nienaber the physio. Erasmus wore the famous blue jersey between 1993 and 1995. Daan Human, a former Shimla (1999-2000) and Shimla assistant coach, was appointed as the scrum coach of the national team last year.

Nche, a double Varsity Cup winner with the Young Guns in 2014 and the Shimlas in 2015, is strongly in the race for a place in the Springbok team.

Deon Davids, assistant coach of the Boks, recently had high praise for Nche.
“It is well-known that Ox is a quality player. Ox has been a consistent performer. His presence in the camp is an asset,” Davids said.

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