Unlike most rugby players, Juarno had a slow start to his rugby playing career. He only started playing rugby at the age of 12 but that did not stop the now 19 year old Juarno from being named the World Rugby Under 20 Championship Player of the Tournament. He had crossed the tryline in each of the team’s five championship matches and scored the most tries to finish the tournament with a grand total of seven tries.
Born in the Northern Cape (Alexander Bay) and raised mostly in the Western Cape, the No8 started playing for a local Eersterivier club called Whistling Wheels, and at junior level he made the Western Province Under 12 team. His highest achievement before being selected for the SA U20’s was playing in the Under-18 Coca-Cola Academy Week after which he was invited to play for the Western Province Rugby Institute. It is important to note that he was overlooked for a spot on the sought after under-18 Craven Week team last year, only to become one of the world’s most sought after players, both domestically and internationally. He is however currently contracted to the Western Province until the end of next year.
Not only is Juarno built like a truck, but he is also a naturally gifted athlete and tactical thinker. When in play, his opponents have difficulty stopping him due to his powerful physique and his ability to bust through their tackles.
His specialty strength is “taking the ball into contact”, which requires power and is mostly about running into your opponents and driving them back with the ball in hand. However, he is versatile in that he is also strong in stopping the opposition from scoring (defense). He says that he worked really hard at defense because people didn’t think that he was a good defender.
Juarno says that that he is very thankful for the support he had received from his team mates, coaches and the rugby supporting public. Most importantly, he was grateful for the “unwavering support” he had received from his family throughout his career. He says the moment that he will never forget and almost had in tears, was singing the national anthem for the first time in an international tournament.
He is also a very modest guy. He gives all of the credit for his tries to his teammates and says that he only finished off the tries that they produced. He also says that he still has to work hard to prove that he is capable of becoming a senior bok. He admits that maintaining a high level of fitness does not come naturally to him and he has to continuously work hard to keep fit.
Juarno feels that his past disappointments is just an opportunity to learn and for now, he is just planning ahead and working hard to make the WP under-21 team as well as aiming to be included as part of the senior Currie Cup team.
See video of what Juarno has to say about his award below: