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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

UFS physicists publish in prestigious Nature journal
2017-10-16

Description: Boyden Observatory gravitational wave event Tags: Boyden Observatory, gravitational wave event, Dr Brian van Soelen, Hélène Szegedi, multi-wavelength astronomy 
Hélène Szegedi and Dr Brian van Soelen are scientists in the
Department of Physics at the University of the Free State.

Photo: Charl Devenish

In August 2017, the Boyden Observatory in Bloemfontein played a major role in obtaining optical observations of one of the biggest discoveries ever made in astrophysics: the detection of an electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave event.
 
An article reporting on this discovery will appear in the prestigious science journal, Nature, in October 2017. Co-authors of the article, Dr Brian van Soelen and Hélène Szegedi, are from the Department of Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS). Both Dr Van Soelen and Szegedi are researching multi-wavelength astronomy.
 
Discovery is the beginning of a new epoch in astronomy
 
Dr van Soelen said: “These observations and this discovery are the beginning of a new epoch in astronomy. We are now able to not only undertake multi-wavelength observations over the whole electromagnetic spectrum (radio up to gamma-rays) but have now been able to observe the same source in both electromagnetic and gravitational waves.”
 
Until recently it was only possible to observe the universe using light obtained from astronomical sources. This all changed in February 2016 when LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) stated that for the first time they had detected gravitational waves on 14 September 2015 from the merger of two black holes. Since then, LIGO has announced the detection of two more such mergers. A fourth was just reported (27 September 2017), which was the first detected by both LIGO and Virgo. However, despite the huge amount of energy released in these processes, none of this is detectable as radiation in any part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Since the first LIGO detection astronomers have been searching for possible electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave detections. 
 
Large international collaboration of astronomers rushed to observe source
 
On 17 August 2017 LIGO and Virgo detected the first ever gravitational waves resulting from the merger of two neutron stars. Neutron star mergers produce massive explosions called kilonovae which will produce a specific electromagnetic signature. After the detection of the gravitational wave, telescopes around the world started searching for the optical counterpart, and it was discovered to be located in an elliptical galaxy, NGC4993, 130 million light years away. A large international collaboration of astronomers, including Dr Van Soelen and Szegedi, rushed to observe this source.
 
At the Boyden Observatory, Dr Van Soelen and Szegedi used the Boyden 1.5-m optical telescope to observe the source in the early evening, from 18 to 21 August. The observations obtained at Boyden Observatory, combined with observations from telescopes in Chile and Hawaii, confirmed that this was the first-ever detection of an electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave event. Combined with the detection of gamma-rays with the Fermi-LAT telescope, this also confirms that neutron star mergers are responsible for short gamma-ray bursts.  
 
The results from these optical observations are reported in A kilonova as the electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave source published in Nature in October 2017.
 
“Our paper is one of a few that will be submitted by different groups that will report on this discovery, including a large LIGO-Virgo paper summarising all observations. The main results from our paper were obtained through the New Technology Telescope, the GROND system, and the Pan-STARRS system. The Boyden observations helped to obtain extra observations during the first 72 hours which showed that the light of the source decreased much quicker than was expected for supernova, classifying this source as a kilonova,” Dr Van Soelen said.

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