Born in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, Jaco Nepgen went to school at Hangklip Primary and High School, after which he was fortunate enough to receive a rugby bursary to play at Stellenbosch University. Graduating with a BA Sport Science degree in 2009.
He joined Griquas, and became a Kimberlite ever since, and has shown how much of a passionate individual he is. A player who wears his heart on his sleeve, with a big interest in youth development, high performance and personal training, outside rugby of course. Griquas got off to a strong start with a convincing Bonus point win in the last minute of their Currie Cup opener against the Griffons.
BC – You are one of the longest serving Griquas players at the Union. What does it mean for you to play at the GWK Park?
JN- Every game is as special as the first one. Griquas is very unique in the sense that every person in Kimberley is part of the Griquas family. I say family, because every player, management and other union employee knows each other inside and out, we all strive for the same goal and you can see that in everyone’s eyes when you speak to them.
BC – You have to tell us a little bit about that ground. It is very hard and believed to strip one’s skin quite a lot. Tell us about your home?
JN- *bursts in laughter* Coming from Queenstown, I am actually very used to similar playing surfaces. However, for visiting teams it can be quite intimidating. There is nothing wrong with a war mark here and there. I must admit, Oom Daan, our grounds keeper has done an immaculate job this year and the field is looking top class. You can expect some serious running rugby in Kimberley this year.
BC – You guys are running the initiative of brand your business. Can you explain it?
JN – Yes, a couple of my teammates and I have started this initiative purely for one reason: To give back and support the Kimberley/Northern Cape Public through business. . I feel us as the union are not doing enough to support our local businesses.
As we are fighting day in and day out to perform on the field, so are the public that come support us week after week, year after year. In short, we are selling advertising space on our vehicles for a tenth of the cost it will cost you to advertise in the local newspaper. In return, the players make themselves available as an ambassador of that company through public speaking, adverts and corporate days etc.
BC – What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced as a player?
JN – I think any rugby player will answer the same. Coping with injuries. It has and will always be part of the game, but you will never be used to it. I am a very competitive individual and even sitting out a part of a practice session is frustrating enough.
BC – The new Currie Cup season is an expanded version. What are your thoughts on the format and how do you feel the Griquas will do?
JN – Personally I am very excited about 2016. With a new Griquas comes a new format of the Currie Cup and I don’t think that is any coincidence. It will be very challenging to say the least, with rugby nonstop from April to the end of October. However, Neil Murphy (Conditioning Coach) has done a great job in preparing the guys physically and mentally for the challenge ahead. The scoreboards will take care of itself if we take all our preparation to the field week in and week out. Our approach will be one game at a time, one training session at a time. Winning the small daily battles to eventually win the war.
BC – What has been the secret for your longevity in the game?
JN – You making me sound old now…I think my education in Sport Science and self-discipline gives me the tools I need to know what to do and when to do them. Of course, having a coaching staff that knows when you have totally busted your butt to let you take it easy for a bit always helps.
BC – You played with a youngster named Stephan Malan (one to watch) last season, what were your thoughts on him as a veteran of the game?
JN – I can summarise the young man in four phrases: Talented, hard-working, disciplined and a pure gentleman (off the field).
BC – What area, in comparison to last season do you feel will change for the Griquas this season?
JN – It will definitely be the team’s mind-set. On attack and defence. We are given a lot more freedom to play what we see and that frees up a lot of players. We are blessed with some serious X-factor players this year and I truly believe that something special is happening at the Griquas brotherhood.