In 2016 Super Rugby will enter a new era with the inclusion of the Southern Kings from South Africa as well as franchises from Argentina and Japan, increasing the total number of teams from 15 to 18. Perdeby takes a look at the former UP players who are set to play in this year’s competition.
Pollard made his debut for UP-Tuks in the 2013 Varsity Cup season. Since then the fly-half has gone from strength-to-strength as his 68 points in that season made him the tournament’s second highest point-scorer. Blessed with a killer boot and good strength, Pollard is an all-round fly-half who is able to pin teams in their own half and attack the defence.
Pollard made the move to Pretoria after receiving a surprise call-up to the South African under-20 side in 2012. He showed his quality by helping his country reach the under-20 World Cup. Pollard made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 in the first round of the season against the Sharks. He then went on to captain the Springbok under-20 side in New Zealand and made his international debut for the Springboks in a friendly against Scotland.
In 2015 Pollard cemented his place as the Springbok’s and Bull’s first choice fly-half after the departure of Morné Steyn, and played in the 2015 IRB World Cup to help South Africa to their third place finish.
At 21 years old, Pollard is expected to be one of the shining stars in this year’s competition.
Gelant made his Varsity Cup debut for UP in the 2014 season as he started all seven matches that the team played in the competition.
Able to play full-back or wing, Gelant has electric speed and a good sidestep to exhaust defences. Gelant also played for the South African under-20 side, making his debut in the 2014 Junior World Cup in New Zealand. Gelant’s speed saw him get called up to the South African Sevens side at the end of 2014, playing in the Dubai and South African legs of the tournament. The full-back made his Currie Cup debut in 2015 for the Blue Bulls and helped to re-energise a much-criticised backline after the Super Rugby tournament that year. Having been included in the Bull’s Super Rugby squad this year, Gelant is expected to make his debut and continue his talent in creativity and speed to nail down a spot as the first-choice full-back.
Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Janse van Rensburg played in the Varsity Cup for UP in the 2014 season. As a powerful centre, Janse van Renburg lit up the competition using his strength to bulldoze his way through the defences. Janse van Rensburg played for the Blue Bulls at under-19 and under-21 level before joining the Golden Lions at the end of 2014. In 2015, Janse van Rensburg made his Currie Cup debut for the side, helping them to the title by scoring a try in the final against Western Province. With his inclusion in the Lions’ 2016 Super Rugby Side, fans should look forward to seeing Janse van Rensburg use his trademark size and strength in the backline.
Mbonambi played for UP-Tuks during the 2013 and 2014 Varsity Cup seasons, having made the move from the TUT Vikings. The stout hooker is renowned for his work in the tight-loose and continues to show strength that overshadows his small size for the position. Mbonambi made his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls in 2012 against the Crusaders and continued to play for the team until 2014. In 2015 Mbonambi decided to make the move to the Stormers for more game time and made his debut for both the Stormers and Western Province in that year. Mbonambi is expected to keep progressing this season, as he is competing for the starting hooker spot with Scarra Ntubeni.
Image: Staff cartoonist