Springbok Herschel Jantjies credits Varsity rugby for putting spark back into his game

Stormers' Herschel Jantjies clears the ball out of a ruck during a European Champions Cup match at Cape Town Stadium

FILE - Stormers' Herschel Jantjies clears the ball out of a ruck during a European Champions Cup match at Cape Town Stadium. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP

Published Apr 3, 2024


Springbok and Stormers scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies believes the FNB Varsity Shield competition played a huge role in him Kurt-Lee Arendse becoming Rugby World Cup winners.

The 27-year-old Jantjies, a World Cup winner in Japan in 2019, spoke fondly of his time playing for FNB UWC in the Varsity Shield competition and the role it played in his development as a player.

“Yes, the Varsity Shield is a very exciting competition and was something that I really needed in my career at the time,” the Kylemore-born, Paul Roos Gymnasium old boy, recalled.

“I was not getting a lot of game time at Western Province, and it was something I really needed at the time just to get that spark back in my game.

“The way the game is structured nowadays with age group rugby, it is good for any young player to play Varsity Cup or Varsity Shield. It was one of my most enjoyable periods since I started playing rugby. The crowds and the whole excitement around the competition was really lekker for me.”

Jantjies said he was particularly inspired by UWC coaches like the late Chester Williams and Bolla Conradie, both of whom were former Springboks.

“Coach Bolla was especially great for me. I think it’s wonderful for any young player to have that kind of experience to guide you.”

Jantjies represented WP at Craven Week, Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21 level. On the other hand, the 27-year-old Arendse, who won a World Cup medal with the Springboks in France in 2023, was only recognised whilst playing for UWC in the Varsity Shield competition, when the legendary Williams was also the coach.

“Kurt-Lee and I have known each other since our school days. When we were Under-19, he was not at the WP Institute but was part of our group at Under-21 level. We went to UWC at the same time.

“Kurt-Lee was always destined for greatness. The same things that Kurt-Lee produced thus far for the Boks, he did when he played Varsity Shield. The Varsity Shield gave him that opportunity. Eventually, he went on to play for the Springbok Sevens and is now with the Bulls and he is still playing brilliant rugby,” adds Jantjies.

Varsity Rugby