Congratulations Ben-Jason Dixon

SU Industrial Engineering alumni becomes Springbok Rugby player

On Saturday, 22 June 2024, Ben-Jason Dixon, Industrial Engineeringgraduate (class of 2022) from Stellenbosch University, will play his first match for the Springbok rugby team. After 50 excellent caps as a Utility Forward for the DHL Stormers and previously representing Maties in Varsity Cup, Ben-Jason will become a Springbok when he takes the field in the Springbok match against Wales at Twickenham.

We are very proud of Ben-Jason for this significant achievement.

Ben-Jason Dixon spoke to our marketing team before his big debut.


 1. Why did you choose to study Industrial Engineering?

I like puzzles and creative problem-solving, and I was interested in mathematics and programming, so the degree seemed very attractive to me.


2. How did you manage to balance your studies and your professional rugby career?

Balancing my studies and rugby career was manageable because I truly liked studying and playing rugby. Motivation comes easier when you enjoy it. I am blessed with faith that strengthens me when my energy runs low. I also had an amazing study group of friends who were always willing to share notes and tips in class.


3. What was your favourite Industrial Engineering module and on which topic did your final-year project focus? Was it rugby-related?

Information Systems, Industrial Programming and Operations Research were my favourite modules. My final year project focused on defect detection using machine learning techniques.

Ben-Jacon, under the supervision of Mr. Eldon Burger, successfully delivered his project, titled: Fake Defect Generation – Image Data Augmentation to Improve Automated Visual


4.⁠ How do you think your Industrial Engineering degree and way of thinking contribute to your personal performance on the field and the strategy of your team?

It helps me see and think about the bigger picture in rugby outside of my own position. It helps me understand the patterns of play and where they fit into the bigger picture of the game. In the future, I can foresee myself using the analytical skills and techniques learned to develop analytical models for my team to analyse our performance.


5. How does it feel to be selected to play for your national team, and what does this achievement mean to you? Were there specific players who mentored you?

It is a massive honour to represent South Africa. I am excited because it is a dream coming true, but I don’t think the magnitude of the moment has sunk in yet. The support I have received has been amazing! I have been blessed with amazing coaches and team members who have taught me a great deal. RitoHlungwani, DHL Stormers Forwards Coach, has played a significant role in my career. He has coached and supported me for several years, allowing me to share my input and ideas with him. Pieter-Steph du Toit is a player whose performance I admire and have learned a lot from. I have also learned a lot from players such as Ernst van Rhyn, Marvin Orie, Manie Libbok and  Damian Willemse who have a great understanding of the game and a lot of experience.


⁠6. What advice would you give to other student-athletes who aspire to excel in both academics and sports?

Don’t be too hard on yourself looking back on your life. Instead, work hard at being disciplined in the moment, especially in difficult moments such as studying for a test when you are tired.  Always strive for excellence in your profession and the person you want to become. Seek your comfort in God. Build a strong support system in your friends and family. Enjoy the journey.

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