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07 September 2023 | Story Jóhann Thormählen | Photo Stephen Collett
Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Free State, and Jacques Nienaber, Springbok head coach, met when South Africa played against Wales in Bloemfontein in 2022.

The University of the Free State (UFS) will be well represented on the biggest stage when the 2023 Rugby World Cup takes place in the next two months. UFS alumni count among those on the field, next to the field, and even as part of the officials in France.

The former Shimla Ox Nche represents South Africa at his first World Cup, while the former Kovsies Jacques Nienaber (head coach), Rassie Erasmus (South Africa’s Director of Rugby), Daan Human (scrum coach), and Bongani Tim Qumbu (strength and conditioning coach) are all part of the Springbok team management.

They all called Shimla Park – the home of UFS rugby – home when they started their careers.

Another UFS alumnus, Jaco Peyper, will represent South Africa as one of 12 referees at the World Cup. Peyper, regarded as one of the world’s best referees, will referee his second World Cup opening match when he takes charge of the first game between France and New Zealand (8 September 2023).

Message of support

In a letter to Nienaber, Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Principal, sent the university’s s support to the Springboks and wished them all the best for the tournament on behalf of the staff and students at the university. 

 “We are extremely proud of the Springboks – especially with you at the helm of the team. As a Kovsie alumnus, we are truly proud of what you have achieved during your career in South African rugby. We are also proud of Rassie, Ox, Daan, Bongani, and Jaco,” Prof Petersen wrote. 

“I wish you and the team all the best in the tournament – I know that Sunday’s opening match will be played with vigour and determination. Like the rest of the country, we as Kovsies are behind you all the way!”

Making a difference

The 2023 World Cup starts on 8 September 2023, with the final on 28 October 2023. 

The Springboks are in Pool B with Scotland, Ireland, Tonga, and Romania. Their first game is against Scotland in Marseille on 10 September 2023, with Nche as replacement prop.

Jaco Swanepoel, Head of Rugby at KovsieSport, says the UFS is very proud of the former Kovsies representing their country.

“For us, it is exceptional to watch the Springboks play and know that there are so many guys involved,” he says.

“It is also our goal as a university to send people into society to be involved on a bigger stage and to make a difference. In this case, a big difference in sport. It is very special for us.”

Nienaber studied physiotherapy, was the Shimlas’ physio while studying, and later progressed to coach.

He took over the Springbok reigns from Erasmus in January 2020.

Erasmus – who steered South Africa to victory as coach in the 2019 World Cup – and Human both represented the Shimlas and Springboks.

Qumbu studied Human Movement Science and worked with the UFS Young Guns team while Nche was playing for the side.

From UFS Young Guns to Boks

Nche was part of the Shimlas that won the 2015 Varsity Cup and the UFS Young Guns that were crowned champions in 2014. He was named KovsieSport Junior Sportsman of the Year in 2015.

André Tredoux, the Shimlas’ head coach, scouted Nche as a promising youngster from HTS Louis Botha and coached him with the Free State U19 team, UFS Young Guns, and Shimlas.

“Ox has always been an unbelievable character and great person,” Tredoux says.

“What I noticed from a young age was his explosiveness and speed, but his work ethic is what set him apart from others.

“We are very proud of him and all the former Kovsies who are part of the Springbok management. We know they will make us proud.”

    News Archive

    UFS-NSTF winners to make presentations
    2008-07-21

    Staff members of the University of the Free State (UFS) who are recent winners of two prestigious National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) awards will make presentations at the CR Swart Building on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein on 31 July 2008.

    Prof Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences will present a paper on “The importance of training in agriculture in Africa”. She received an award for the development of research capacity over the last ten years. She is an expert in the field of plant breeding and food security in Africa and was rewarded for her outstanding contribution to the development and training of black researchers and students.

    The recipients of the other award, Prof Jan van der Westhuizen from the Department of Chemistry and Prof Kenneth Swart from FARMOVS-PAREXEL, will present a paper on “Bio-analytical chemistry”. Both are members of a team that also includes Dr Susan Bonnet from the Chemistry Department and Prof Thinus van der Merwe from FARMOVS-PAREXEL, and which received the award for innovation and outstanding contribution to science, engineering and technology by either an individual or a team over the last ten years.

    The presentations will start at 11:00.

    Media Release
    Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
    Assistant Director: Media Liaison
    Tel: 051 401 2828
    Cell: 078 460 3320
    E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
    21 July 2008

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