Hours of hard work pay off

Kingswood College flanker Sipho Nonyalela. | JACKIE CLAUSEN

Kingswood College flanker Sipho Nonyalela. | JACKIE CLAUSEN

Published May 19, 2024


Durban — An Eastern Cape teen’s long hours of rugby training are paying off as he joins the Sharks Academy in KwaZulu-Natal.

Sipho Nonyalela, who turns 18 on Friday, has signed a three-year contract with the Sharks Academy and will join next year.

The academy is a division of The Sharks and is a private soccer and rugby academy that offers accredited academic programmes and rugby and soccer coaching.

Sipho, a Grade 12 pupil at Kingswood College in Makhanda, is his school’s First XV flanker. He said his agent presented his video to various unions.

“I was thrilled to receive the offer from the Sharks Academy. Even though I am not from KwaZulu-Natal I have been a fan of the Sharks,” he said.

“I would like to one day make the Springboks team, but maybe first make the Sharks under-20 team.”

Sipho started playing rugby when he was 13. A coach in Adelaide in the Eastern Cape noticed his potential and suggested he take up rugby.

“I started playing touch rugby and fell in love with the sport,” he said.

Kingswood College flanker Sipho Nonyalela. | JACKIE CLAUSEN

Sipho is the head of his boarding house, Jagger, and vice-captain of his school rugby team.

During the rugby training programme at The Sharks Academy, athletes can choose to study for an accredited qualification.

Sipho will study business management and “would like to take up farming one day”.

He said anyone wanting to play rugby should not give up; they must put in the hard work because it would pay off at the right time.

Kingswood College head of rugby James Winstanley said Sipho developed quickly in their environment.

“It was naturally overwhelming in the beginning, however, he has grown into a leader and driver of the team’s tactics in just over a year, illustrating his qualities beyond his athleticism.

“Sipho’s work rate is his stand-out feature and this caught the eye of the rugby community,” he said.

“Sipho is a phenomenal ball carrier and line-out operator, and his support play is second to none. He is an inspiration to all, a leader willing to ask questions in pursuit of the best for the team and what is right.”

Independent on Saturday