Justin Theys, better known as Jubba, has been a pillar of strength for FNB UWC for the last couple of years. The front-rower has featured prominently during a period which also saw the likes of World Cup-winning scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and Springbok speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse make their mark.
Theys recently signed a professional contract with Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo in Italy. Since matriculating from Grootte Schuur High in Cape Town, he has made a few detours and his story is one he hopes will inspire and motivate young players to keep on pushing to accomplish their dreams.
After the 2022 FNB Varsity Cup competition, Theys joined the SWD Eagles for the Currie Cup season before heading off to Israel to play in a few matches for the country’s newly formed first professional rugby side, Tel Aviv Heat.
Theys was recruited by the late rugby legend Chester Williams to play for UWC. Initially starstruck, he recollects those first few training sessions back in 2016.
"At first, I could not believe the legendary Chester Williams would be my coach. I was starstruck at least for a few months into our training programme."
While Theys was a strong rugby player throughout UWC's most successful Varsity Rugby (Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield) period, it was in his final year that he turned things around to become a more focused and driven individual, not just a rugby player. He made full use of the financial support he got while playing for the 2018Varsity Shield champions.
Theys graduated in 2017 with a Diploma in Economic Development. In 2021 he completed a B.Ed. (majoring in English and Life Orientation) - and is currently studying towards an honours degree. Theys knows adversity and how to bounce back from it, much like his playing style. He never backs down from a challenge.
"Once I had completed my studies, I received my first professional offer abroad and I was so ready for it. I had invested all of my time, money, and energy into preparing my mind and body for the upcoming journey. Unfortunately, I was ineligible for a specific sporting visa because of my lack of professional experience. I was broken by the news."
True to his nature, Theys got back up, dusted himself off and set out to achieve his dream of landing that professional contract. He re-joined UWC, and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I reached out to coach Paul Treu very late in the preparation for the Varsity Cup in 2022, asking if I could join in the hopes of landing another professional contract."
by Lyndon Julius