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20 October 2020 | Story Tom Ferreira and Jóhann Thormählen | Photo Blue Bulls Company
Pote Human.

The former Free State forward and coach, Pote Human, is coming back ‘home’. He has been appointed as the new FNB Shimlas head coach for the 2021 Varsity Cup competition and will be in charge of the rugby team for the second time.
According to Human, he has always had a ‘soft spot’ for the Free State, where he coached at club, university, and provincial level.

The experienced coach, who coached the Bulls Super Rugby team in 2019 and 2020, will already be at the University of the Free State (UFS) on 2 November 2020 to start preparing the FNB Shimlas for the Varsity Cup. He takes over from the former Springbok flank, Hendro Scholtz, who is no longer available as head coach due to work pressure. Scholtz will continue to be a FNB Shimlas assistant coach.

Free State ties 

Human, who has a long association with Free State rugby, has been involved as a coach with teams such as the Bulls, Griquas, Tuks, and the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan.

He says he is very excited about the new challenge. “Bloemfontein has wonderful people and the FNB Shimlas have a great management team. I have known Jaco (Swanepoel), who coached my son Gerhard at Grey College, since my years as Shimla coach.”

The former loose forward coached the Shimlas from 2000 to 2004. “I am particularly proud that the Shimlas won the FNB Super Bowl tournament (similar to the Varsity Cup), the Bloemfontein club championship trophy (Stadsbeker), and the National Club Championships in 2004.

“Several of the young men who played for Shimlas at the time, including Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthrö Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Ruan Pienaar, and Wian du Preez, later became Springboks.”

Human was replaced by the former Bok coach Jake White as the Bulls head coach in May. The Bulls, under Human’s leadership, finished as the leading South African team on the log in Super Rugby in 2019, and advanced to the quarterfinals.

A seasoned coach

He will now give back where it all started. Human played two matches for the Free State senior team in 1979 as an U19 player, and again played for the province from 1989 to 1993 – a total of 82 matches, 64 of them as captain. He also played 116 games for Eastern Province.

His coaching career began in 1994 as forwards coach for the Free State under the late Nelie Smith.
The Free Staters reached the Currie Cup final that year, where they lost to the then Transvaal in Bloemfontein. Human then coached the Police Rugby Club in Bloemfontein before joining the Shimlas in 2000.

“Pote is a seasoned coach who will bring something new to the team,” says Swanepoel, Head of Rugby Coaching and High-Performance Sports at the UFS. “As a former Shimla coach, he also knows the culture of the team. The UFS FNB Young Guns was the leading team in the Varsity Cup for U20 teams this year, so there is ample talent for him to work with.”

An investment in the future 

Jerry Segwaba, President of the Free State Rugby Union, says Human’s appointment is an investment in the future. “The FNB Shimlas have always been an important link in the Free State rugby chain, which starts at schools and extends to university and club rugby to professional rugby.”

“Pote and his coaching team will play an important role in developing quality players for the Cheetahs’ senior teams. We welcome him back home and wish him all the best.”

Ryno Opperman, chairman of the board of the Free State Cheetahs, also has a high regard for him. Opperman played under Human as Free State captain.

“He is the right man at the right time for the job,” he says. “His appointment is a vote of confidence in the future of Free State rugby. The Free State Cheetahs are the Currie Cup champions and must keep on developing talent for the future.”
“It is encouraging to see players and coaches such as Pote, Ruan Pienaar, and Frans Steyn returning to their roots in the Free State.”

News Archive

Using sugar to make the world a sweeter place
2017-10-13

Description: Deepback sugar Tags: Sugarcane, Dr Deepack Santchurn, Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), Department of Plant Sciences 

Dr Deepack Santchurn, former PhD student in the
Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS,
and plant breeder in the  Mauritius Sugar Industry
Research Institute, with Prof Maryke Labuschagne, left,
Dr Santchurn’s study leader.
Photo: Charl Devenish



Besides it mainly being used for sugar production, sugarcane has emerged as an important alternative for providing clean renewable energy. Dr Deepack Santchurn, who works in the sugarcane breeding department of the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), believes if he could contribute towards a more environment-friendly and renewable energy through the use of sugarcane biomass, he would consider himself having made a great leap towards a better world. 

Sugarcane is mostly known and exploited for the sugar in its cane stem. According to Dr Santchurn it is not the only thing the crop does well. “Together with certain grasses, it is the finest living collector of sunlight energy and a producer of biomass in unit time. Sugarcane is now recognised worldwide as a potential renewable and environment-friendly bioenergy crop.” 

Significantly more bioenergy can be produced from sugarcane if the production system is not focused on the production and recovery of sucrose alone but on the maximum use to the total above-ground biomass. Diversification within the sugarcane industry is of paramount importance. 

He has been able to identify a few high biomass varieties that can be exploited industrially. One of the varieties is a commercial type with relatively high sugar and low fibre in the cane stem. Dr Santchurn explains: “Its sucrose content is about 0.5% less than the most cultivated commercial variety in Mauritius. Nevertheless, its sugar yield and above-ground biomass yield surpass those of the commercial varieties by more than 24%. The genetic gains compared to commercial varieties were around +50% for total biomass yield and +100% for fibre yield. Its cultivation is strictly related to bio-energy production and the extracted juice can be used as a feed-stock for ethanol and other high-value products.”

Dr Santchurn received his PhD at the UFS’s Department of Plant Sciences during the Winter Graduation Ceremonies in June this year. His study leader was Prof Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences. 

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