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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 awards degrees at autumn graduation ceremony

    The University of the Free State’s (UFS) autumn diploma and graduation ceremony took place this week in the Arena on the South Campus in Bloemfontein (formerly known as the Vista Campus). This arrangement has been made because of the large-scale renovations to the Callie Human Centre on the Main Campus.

    Friday, 24 April 2009
    Faculties of Health Sciences, Law and Theology Diploma ceremony

    Law student’s achievement excels 80%
    Four Law students obtained the LLB degree at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS) summa cum laude and were awarded the Moritz Bobbert Medal. They are from the left: Lezelle Olivier (80%), Albert Nell (91%) and Amanda du Toit (83%). LiFeng Chien were absent during the photo.

    UFS awards degrees at autumn graduation ceremony
    Today 331 students and five doctorates in the Faculties of Health Sciences, Law and Theology received their qualifications at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS). Michael Molahloe (left) and Mamokete Ntholeng both received their LL.B. degrees in the Faculty of Law.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

    This year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS) was held on the South Campus. From the group of students that received their qualification from the Faculty of Law, is from the left: Janine Jonson, Anneska van der Spoel, Andrea Coetzer, and Jo-Mari Visser.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

    Students in Nursing receive their degree
    A group of students from the Faculty of Health Sciences received their B.Soc.Sc. degree at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS). At the occasion were, from the left: Ruth Beukes, Basetsana Panana, and Dipontsheng Tsolo.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

    UFS Faculty of Health Sciences awards degrees
    Liezl Swanepoel (left) and Heide van der Merwe received their BSocSC degrees at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) autumn graduation ceremony.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


    Thursday, 23 April 2009
    Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences & Chancellor’s Dinner

    UFS awards unique doctorate
    Dr Rodney Douglas, who had never obtained any formal undergraduate qualification, this week received a Ph.D. in Geography and Geology during the autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS). The name of his thesis is “A new perspective on the geohydrological and surface processes controlling the depositional environment at the Florisbad archaeozoological site”. He had four papers published in journals that were related to his thesis. He obtained his South African Museums Association Diploma in Biology in 1988 and his M.Sc. in Environmental Biology at the University of Natal, Durban in 1992. He was accepted as a Master's degree student at that university based on research that he had conducted on, amongst others, the diets of reptiles. He has been working at the Department of Herpetology at the National Museum, Bloemfontein since 1984, where he holds the post of Principal Museum Scientist and Head of Department.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

    Chancellor’s Dinner: UFS honours doctoral students
    Last night, the University of the Free State (UFS) honoured students who had received their Ph.D. degrees at the autumn graduation ceremony this past week, at the Chancellor’s Dinner. A total of 25 doctorates were awarded during the respective ceremonies. Attending the occasion were, from the left: Dr Annemarie Kühn, Ph.D. in Chemistry, Prof. Jeanet Conradie, Department of Chemistry at the UFS and Dr Kühn’s promoter, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS, Prof. Corene de Wet, Department of Comparative Education and Education Management at the UFS, and Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Chief Executive Officer of Umalusi and former head of the Free State Department of Education who received a Ph.D. in History. Prof. De Wet is Dr Rakometsi's co-promoter and the late Prof. Leo Barnard, former Head of the Department of History at the UFS, who passed away at the beginning of April 2009, was his promoter.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

    Mrs Annemarie Kilian, Mr Willem Kilian (BSc. Hons) and Prof Stephanus Kilian
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

    Mr Jaco van der Merwe, Mr Renico Pretorius and Mr Rion Terblanche (all BSc. Quantity Survying)
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

    Ms Mamakoanyane Amelia Shata (BSc. Genetics and BSc. Hons. Plant Molecular Biology) and Mrs Maente Adelinah Shata.
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

    Mr Maurice Ambrose and Mr Owen Monk (both BSc. Quantity Survying).
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

    Ms Tobeka Mehlomekhulu (Lecturer: Department of Geography), Mr Neo Mokgosi (BSc. Hons. Genetics) and Ms Nwabisa Mehlomekhulu (BSc. Hons. Food Science).
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

    Mr John Mdane, Mr Fana Mdane (BSc. Information Technology) and Mrs Agnes Mdane
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

    Mr Kevin Vermaak (BSc. Hons. Geohydrology) and Ms Michelle Steenkamp (BSc. Hons. Geology).
    Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


    21 April 2009
    Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences

    Prof. Magda Fourie's daughter graduates
    Nadia Fourie, daughter of Prof. Magda Fourie, former Vice-Rector: Academic Planning at the UFS and now Vice-Rector: Teaching at Stellenbosch University, received the B.Com. Law degree.
    Photo: Lacea Loader

    724 degrees were awarded during the ceremony of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Here are, from the left: Simon Serutla, B.Com. Accounting, Lourencia Hamuaka, B.Com. Honours in Financial Economics and Investment Management, Sunet Opperman, B. Accounting, and Yolandi Greyling, B. Accounting.
    Photo: Lacea Loader

    Students in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences graduated this week during the University of the Free State's (UFS) autumn graduation ceremony. Altogether 724 degrees were conferred. Here are, from the left: Marie-Louise Lombard, B.Com. Law, Adriaan van der Merwe, B.Com. Law and member of the Student Representative Council (Legal and Constitutional Affairs), Basanio Ncike, B.Com. Economics, and Richard Schooling, B.Com. Banking.
    Photo: Lacea Loader

    Center for Accounting honours top achievers
    The Centre for Accounting at the University of the Free State (UFS) honoured the top ten students in the third-year B.Com. and B.Com. Hons. programmes respectively during this week's autumn graduation ceremony. Here are, from the left: Prof. Ronell Britz, Chairperson of the centre, Nils Kotze, first place in the B.Com. third-year group, and Madri Victor, first place in the B.Com. Hons. group; back: Prof. Hentie van Wyk, Programme Director: Accountant Training.
    Photo: Stephen Collett

    Accounting firms in Free State help with recognition of top achievers
    Accounting firms in the Free State have contributed to a fund at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Centre for Accounting to give recognition to top achievers in the third-year programme for the B.Com. and B.Com Hons. degrees respectively this week. It is evidence of the good relationship that exists between the Centre and the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA), Free State. Here, from the left, are: Mr Pieter Clase, CoetzeeSmit Chartered Accountants, Mr Oswald Wentworth, KPMG, Mr Ettienne van Niekerk, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Herman Leach, Gobodo Inc. Chartered Accountants, and Mr Stefan Strydom, Havenga, Rossouw & Viljoen; front: Mr Ian Smit, Enslins Bloemfontein, Ms Thelma Crossman, Mazars, and Ms Daphline O'Brien, Ernst & Young.
    Photo: Stephen Collett


    20 April 2009
    Faculty of Education, Faculty of the Humanities.

    CHESD awards 15 masters degrees
    A group of 15 students received the Structured M.A. (Higher Education Studies) of the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS). This is the biggest group in the centre's history to be awarded master’s degrees, while four of the students received distinctions. Also of interest is that six of the 15 students already have doctoral degrees. At the occasion were, from the left: Dr Dipane Hlalele, Qwaqwa Campus, Ms Liesl Hoare, Central Univeristy of Technology, Welkom Campus (best achiever), and Dr Fanus van Tonder, Programme Director: Higher Education Studies and Research, CHESD. Ms Hoare received the Deans medal in the Faculty of the Humanities as the best master’s graduate student at the graduation ceremony. At the faculty’s prize function she also received the Kovsie-Alumni Trust award as the best M.A student in the faculty. She also received the CHESD Prize for the best achievement in the Structured M.A. (Higher Education Studies).
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

    UFS awards degrees at autumn graduation ceremony
    Five hundred and eighty six degrees and nine doctorates were awarded this week during this year's autumn graduation ceremony on the South Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) to students in the Faculty of the Humanities. At the occasion were, from the left: Nicola Bekker, Madré van der Merwe and Esté Scholtz. All three the ladies received the qualification B.A. Language Practice.
    Photo: Lacea Loader

    This year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS) is held on the South Campus in Bloemfontein. Today a group of students from the Programme: Governance and Political Transformation in the Faculty of the Humanities received their qualification. From the left, front are: Dr Tania Coetzee, Head of the Programme: Governance and Political Transformation, and Mr Itumeleng Liba, Chief Operation Officer at CENTLEC; back: Mr Kennett Sinclair, Vice-Chairperson of COPE in the Northern Cape, Ms Nicole Joannou, Goldfields Business and Catering, and Mr Tembeni Lobe from Bloemfontein.
    Photo: Lacea Loader

    Some of the students who received their qualifications during this week's graduation ceremony of the Faculty of the Humanities were, from the left: Shu-Jung Chan, B.Mus. Hons., Brian Gxavu, B.Mus., and Mpolokeng Lepote, B.A. Media Studies.
    Photo: Lacea Loader

    UFS’s CHESD awards doctoral degree
    Ms Mardi Delport (middle), Assistant Director: Media and Communications at the Central University of Technology received her Doctoral degree at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS). The title of her thesis is: “An internal communication model for the Central University of Technology, Free State as a multi-campus institution”. With her are her promoter Prof. Driekie Hay (left), Vice-Rector: Academic Planning, and her co-promoter, Prof. Annette Wilkinson (right) from the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at the UFS.
    Photo: Leonie Bolleurs 

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