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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

    Shimlas win the USSA tournament for the second year in a row!
    2008-07-21

    The USSA tournament was hosted by the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal from 30 June to 4 July at the Howard College Campus fields in Durban.

    Shimlas was victorious over the following teams:

    Maties 25-22, Varsity College 23 – 16 and UJ 34 – 26

    Waltie Vermeulen was selected as forward of the tournament.

    Six Shimlas was selected for the SA Students team which will play Namibia in Windhoek. They are:

    Waltie Vermeulen – lock
    Wayne Stevens – center
    Marlin Ruiters – scrumhalf
    Cameron Jacobs – center/wing
     

    Andre Tredoux - lock
    Gert Erasmus - hooker
     

     Agter staande vlnr: Cameron Jacobs, Wouter Stieger, Wilken Heyns, Willie Britz, Louis van Rensburg, Kevin Stevens, Lyle Bastian, James Hellawell, Niell Jacobs, Jaco Swanepoel (afrigter), Waltie Vermeulen, Ruan Jacobs, Roche van der Westhuizen, Shaun Jankielsohn (fisio), Pieter Gouws, Roelof Steyn.

    Agter sittende vlnr: Earl Snyman, Gert Erasmus, Marnus Briedenhann

    2de ry sittende vlnr: Marlin Ruiters, Morne Burger, Jaco Colyn, Wayne Stevens, Lionel Cronje, Graeme Heyneke, Dougie Heymans (afrigter)

    Voor vlnr: Arne Grobbelaar, Llewellyn Adonis
     

     Wayne Stevens, Shimla kaptein ontvang trofee vanaf Mervyn Green van SA Rugby

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