Higher honours for long-standing UJ coach


University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) strength and conditioning coach, Jacques Durand, received due recognition when he was selected as part of the coaching staff for the Varsity Cup Dream Team that lined up against the Junior Boks on 25 April.

Durand, who has been part of UJ’s coaching staff since the Varsity Cup’s inception in 2008, took up the reigns as sport scientist for the Varsity Cup Dream Team. “Personally, it was a great reward for my years of involvement in the Varsity Cup,” said Durand.

“The opportunity was really special and it was great getting to work with the young talent who will cement the future of rugby in our country.”

Durand has been instrumental in developing UJ into one of the leading Varsity Cup teams during his tenure, with the team having reached the playoffs five times. Another personal highlight for Durand was winning the Melrose Sevens in Scotland in 2010.

Under his astute guidance, his teams have also won the Golden Lions Pirates Grand Challenge six times in the last seven years, wherein the coach hopes to bag a consecutive fourth straight title this season.

Commenting on coaching the Dream Team once-off, however, Durand said it came with its fair share of challenges. “It’s difficult to create complex structures or attacking patterns while at the same time getting the brilliance of all the players to gel. Having said that, it’s also a nice challenge to try and create something special in a limited time.”

He said the environment in training prior to the match, which the Junior Boks won 50–19, had been positive. “The coaching staff definitely created a very positive vibe and they were awesome to work with,” he said.

“We had only experienced positive attitudes from the team but knew it was always going to be tough playing against the best players in their respective age groups. They [Junior Boks] also had the advantage of having prepared as a team for some time.”

Edited by Beryl Knipe

Also read: UJ rugby coach Werner Janse van Rensburg applauds UJ’s fighting spirit ahead of crunch Maties clash in the Varsity Cup

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Tshepiso Mametela

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