The University of Johannesburg side will be putting last year’s success behind them at the University Sport South Africa (Ussa) rugby tournament in East London from July 4 to 8.
UJ head coach Werner Janse van Rensburg said that the team would be looking no further than their first match against UCT.
“It is obviously an honour to go there as the champions but a new year brings new challenges, and all the sides want to win this elite tournament.”
Although they had lost some players, including last year’s player of the tournament Jeremy Jordaan, the coach said UJ still had a strong squad.
“The team has changed but we have also kept a core group from last year.”
Janse van Rensburg said it would be a priority to manage the players during an intense week of rugby.
“Our preparations at this time of the year are always affected by exams, the provincial schedule and having players on national duty. But we have made the best of the situation and maximised our time.
“Playing the games in one week is tough. The physicality of the tournament is huge with a maximum turnaround time of 40 hours.”
He added that trying to avoid injuries as well as adapting to conditions at the coast would provide further challenges.
“But it’s these factors which make the tournament unique and, therefore, more satisfying if you win it.”
Janse van Rensburg believed the race for the title would be wide open.
“Universities like Tuks and Maties can’t be discounted. However, this tournament has shown that any team come through.”