Cheslin Kolbe putting ‘brotherhood’ ahead of birthday as Springboks look to secure back-to-back World Cup titles

Today is Cheslin Kolbe’s 30th birthday but his celebrations are on ice for now. Photo: BackpagePix

Today is Cheslin Kolbe’s 30th birthday but his celebrations are on ice for now. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Oct 28, 2023


It is an omen, South Africa. Cheslin Kolbe celebrates his 30th birthday by playing in a World Cup final against the All Blacks today – and that could be one star lining up with series of others suggesting the Springboks can win back-to-back titles.

Of course, Kolbe is not focusing on his personal milestone, but rather on what he calls “the brotherhood” that is the Bok team.

“Not every rugby player or team gets the opportunity to play in Rugby World Cup final, so to do so twice in a row is massive for South Africa,” one of the heroes of the 2019 final said in Paris yesterday.

“Where we come from, what the Springboks have been through, all the obstacles we have had to overcome as a team, it just shows what our country is about, and what this jersey means to so many.

“So, we are not only doing it for ourselves, but really hoping to inspire our whole country.”

Kolbe, a historic try-scorer in the 2019 final triumph over England in Yokohama, said that the players embrace the responsibility with pride.

“It is going to be up to us as players to be up for it tomorrow. It has been about visualising certain scenarios of the game, and how they will go and mentally and physically making sure we are well prepared. We want to have a calmness as well.”

Inevitably, there is the question of how Kolbe and his teammates from 2019 compare the current team to the previous vintage.

“We don't like to compare ourselves to four years ago.

“The team has evolved, it has experience, and we have grown together more than we were four years ago. The brotherhood, the love we have for one another, it is massive for us. Whenever we do pull on that jersey, we want to do our country proud,” Kolbe continued.

“When you finish your international season and you go back to wherever you play, you look forward to joining up with the Springbok team again because you know you are going to see your family and your brothers.

“It is something I get excited about. The way the management have got this team together is unbelievable. We are definitely in a good place compared to four years ago.”

Much is made of the opponents facing the Springboks because of a rivalry that is over 100 years old.

“Growing up, being in a Test environment with the All Blacks is something you aspire to,” Kolbe explained.

“You want to be part of history. It has always been a massive rivalry, and it has been like that for a century – two of the toughest teams battling it out.”

Kolbe could find himself at scrumhalf should Faf de Klerk get injured.

“For me, with a bit of a sevens background, I have played at scrumhalf or sweeper, as we call it, and I have played one or two games internationally at scrumhalf.

“Faf has given me some input to make sure I am up to standard in case I am in that position tonight, but I am sure Faf will carry us through to the end.

“I think the last time I played number nine in an international was against Argentina in 2021. It has been a few years.

“You never want to see any injuries for a player, but if the opportunity does happen to go to scrumhalf, I will make the most of enjoy myself.”

Regarding his birthday, Kolbe said: “It's another year, another blessing for me, but it's not about me or celebrating my birthday.

“I am grateful for another year in my life, but to be standing here to represent my country is more than anything for me.”