Makazole Mapimpi has scored five tries in seven Tests for the Springboks. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Just three years ago, Makazole Mapimpi was still playing first division rugby for the Border Bulldogs.

And he was elated about that, as provincial recognition came after years of excelling on the club scene.

He got his big break in 2014, under difficult circumstances, as the Border Rugby Union had been declared bankrupt.

The Border side had to pick amateur club players, and they probably wouldn’t have banked on Mapimpi making such an immense impact.

Along with Lukhanyo Am, Mapimpi eventually got a taste of Super Rugby with the Southern Kings in 2016, and they would be reunited in 2018 at the Sharks.

But the blisteringly fast wing first made a turn at the Cheetahs, where he again almost couldn’t stop scoring in the Currie Cup and PRO14.

He had quickly built a reputation as a lethal finisher, and that saw him elevated into the Springbok squad in 2018, where he made his debut against Wales in Washington.

Now, at 29, he is in the squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Mapimpi’s journey is truly remarkable, and one that is made possible by a genuine belief in transformation, which is about providing fair opportunities to all players.

Mapimpi got his gap belatedly, and he has proven what is possible when a rugby player from a township receives a real chance to make it in the big league.

He now sits on five tries in seven Tests.

“I’d say I probably started dreaming about this day way back in 2016, when I was still playing for the Border Bulldogs in East London,” Mapimpi told the Springbok website after being included in the 31-man World Cup squad.

“Then, when I made my Super Rugby debut in 2017 (for the Southern Kings), I realised I can take the step forward, and perhaps make (to Springbok level) it if I work hard.

“I’m excited and nervous to be here, but I’m looking forward to going to Japan. I would like to thank everyone that sent me messages of support from back home and everywhere else.

“I’m grateful to my family for believing in me, and to all South Africans who believe in me, I really appreciate it.”


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