UJ, Wits head for derby showdown
A major Varsity Cup rugby derby is looming in Gauteng on Monday when in-form teams University of Johannesburg and Wits square up in a televised clash at the UJ Stadium.
The home side are in the better position on the log, having risen to third place following four wins in a row, while Wits, with three wins and three defeats, are in sixth place after the seventh round of the competition.
UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg is preparing his troops for a serious scrap, noting that the last time they played Wits in the Varsity Cup resulted in a narrow win in 2014.
“Firstly, we are grateful just to be in our current position and we are obviously excited to be involved in a big derby on Monday,” he said.
“They are a team at the peak of their powers with a great attitude and intent. They will be solid in all aspects of the game, which will force us to step up a further five per cent from our previous performances.”
The UJ coach said he would be urging his players not to get ahead of themselves, knowing that anything can happen in this competition.
“We have to stay true to what we do because this is a new week and history counts for nothing.
“We have to be at our best and, as a unit, have the willingness to go the extra mile.”
Janse van Rensburg said playing at home would not necessarily give them any major advantage because the nature of the Varsity Cup meant teams had to learn to perform under a variety of conditions.
After suffering two losses early in the season, UJ maintained the momentum they had built up from three successive wins with a resounding 40-12 win over UCT in Cape Town this week.
It was a result which Janse van Rensburg described as “very enjoyable” after the team executed their game plan to near perfection.
“We had a plan of how to approach the extreme wind conditions at UCT which we gradually started to introduce about three weeks ago,” he said.
“We were grateful that most of it worked effectively on the day and the players must be credited for their positive attitude.
“Handling the circumstances on the day and the willingness to do more for each other were big plusses for us,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“The challenge was to handle the lineouts in the wind and the guys stayed calm during this high pressure scenario.”
He said it was encouraging to win their second game away from home, having also beaten Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein.
He added it was too early to start talking about qualifying for the play-offs.
“We still need to get another win to qualify and our only focus at this stage is on trying to get a third win in a row at home this year. The rest will look after itself.”
Caption: University of Johannesburg’s Jo-Hanco de Villiers powers over for a try against UCT in their Varsity Cup rugby match in Cape Town on Monday. Photo: Saspa