Jono Ross was born and raised in Johannesburg. A member of the St Stithians College alumni, Ross enjoys the bush a lot, throwing a line (deep sea fishing) with his old man and lately he has become a fan of coffee shop hopping with his girlfriend Hailey.
Jono has played in England, South Africa and is now in France. Ross became the first English speaking Blue Bulls captain, but his career at Saracens and at the Blue Bulls never really got going.
A move to French club Stade Francais followed and a few top performances in the Top 14 have led to a new contract from the former Tuks man.
Benedict – How are you Jono?
Jono – I am very well thanks
Benedict – You are a leader, a warrior and a hard man as described by peers and coaches. What do you feel are your strengths as a player?
Jono – Flattering words Benedict, my dad always told me I am far too soft. I always find telling people my strengths the most difficult. I like to think I am a strong ball carrier and someone who enjoys tackling. I try strive to have a big work rate every week.
Benedict – You recently signed a new deal that will keep you in France until 2020. Do you have any aspirations to play for the French?
Jono – I am absolutely delighted to have re-signed. I am feeling extremely happy and settled at the club. I think every player wants to play at the highest level of the game but I would just like to continue to play well for Stade and if the opportunity arises I would embrace the challenge.
Benedict – You have a couple of South African team mates in the squad. Have they made the transition, adapting and the move easier? This probably means there are a lot more braais?
Jono – Yes, there is a small community of us South Africans here in Paris. The SA guys have definitely made the transition over here a lot easier. We all hang out a lot and yes there are a few braais with a few cold ones.
There are one or two of the guys who are fluent in French already so they do a lot of advising to the rest of us.
Benedict – You left the Blue Bulls suddenly, you were on a rise and your form was picking up. What triggered the sudden departure?
Jono – I did leave very suddenly. It was at the end of the Currie Cup. I had an honest conversation with the coach and he just told me that I probably wouldn’t play as much as I would’ve liked. A few of the long term injuries were returning and there was the arrival of the new signings.
I had a great opportunity to come to a fantastic club and I jumped at it. In hindsight it was the best move I ever made and I feel like my rugby has been boosted by the new challenge. I am very thankful to the Blue Bulls for all the opportunities they gave me.
Benedict – You have played Super Rugby and Top 14. What is the difference between the Top 14 and Super Rugby from your point of view?
Jono – For me; the main differences is the speed of the game in Super Rugby is a lot faster than most the games here. I think that is due to the weather, but I find the Top 14 extremely physical. The game here is very set piece dominated and games are often decided on that facet.
In the Top 14 there are no bad teams so every week is a real challenge especially when going away from home things are difficult. The crowds are amazing here and they sing during the entire game. This makes for a fabulous atmosphere.