SA’s head boy Siya Kolisi and the Springboks breaking down the barriers

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi takes a selfie with supporters after the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter final against France. Photo: Theresa Suarez/EPA

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi takes a selfie with supporters after the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter final against France. Photo: Theresa Suarez/EPA

Published Oct 19, 2023


Siya Kolisi ... a man that really needs no introduction, a man that has won the hearts of not just Springbok fans but of almost all South Africans and people around the world.

He and his Springboks are on the cusp of history as they prepare to take on England for a place in the final of the Rugby World Cup. The South Africans are looking to retain their title and with back-to-back World Cup wins.

One thing that has stood out for me is how the Springboks’ captain Kolisi manages to always be gracious in victory and defeat. After their thrilling win over France, Kolisi was quick to praise his French counterpart Antoine Dupont for his return from injury, while also thanking the French team and their supporters for making the match such a special occasion.

It’s not surprising that after games - whether it be a moment with fans after the match or an interaction with a player from an opposing team, or even a snippet from a press conference - social media is always abuzz with wholesome Siya Kolisi content.

There is a video of him greeting everyone arriving at a World Cup press conference and first greeting everyone with a ‘Bonjour’ then seconds later saying ‘Molweni’ , with a cheeky smile. A comment on that video read “Siya is the perfect head boy for an unserious (sic) nation like ours”

Now I couldn’t agree more, I don’t have to list all the things we as South Africans have to endure on a daily basis (this is also coming from a very privileged place), but Kolisi manages to put a smile on our face when he gets the chance. Something he and the Boks have managed to do for some time now.

It also brings me to my own anecdotes of him. In 2013 myself and a colleague attended the Stormers yearly pre-season camp in Hermanus. The session was over the day, so we had left ... and on the way we see Siya walking, we ask if he wants to catch a lift back to the team hotel, only a few kilometres away. According to him the team left him behind on purpose (haha) we then spent the short drive singing along to a Yung Thug song.

On another occasion at the 2015 Sevens tournament is Cape Town, my now husband and I bumped in to Siya, we had just bought ourselves some samoosas, which we shared with Siya who rushed over to Cape Town stadium after returning from teammate Nizaam Carr’s wedding.

Neither of these stories are by any means earth shattering, but it shows you the kind of person he is, a man of the people. No airs and graces, just a son of the soil.

My five-year-old son sings Yi Bokke Lena (these are the Boks) on repeat and he asks me several times a day sometimes to watch the video of Siya and boys singing it.

Thinking back to the 1995 Rugby World Cup, I was 8-years-old, things were very different, but for that moment we were all united.

I remember my dad coming home a few days later with an A4 picture of the team which I proudly put on my wall. The fact my son gets to see players like Siya, Manie Libbok, Cheslin Kolbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Lukhanyo Am as Springboks shows representation matters. We can’t help but love our new normal.

The fact that this is the norm for him at this age is something that all of us can be proud. Look I know, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows or ‘love and fresh air’ as my dear late father-in-law would have put it, but this Springbok team is really one team for the nation, a team we can all be proud for so many different things and one that Siya can bring even more success to.

It’s about time time Siya became minister of social cohesion and nation building … Because he certainly gets the job done.