Siya Kolisi

Springbok Rugby World Cup Winning Captains: Siya Kolisi
Image via X @RocNationSports

Springbok Rugby World Cup winning captains: Siya Kolisi – Still in the running to make it 2 from 2

Siya Kolisi is the third Springbok captain to raise the Rugby World Cup trophy aloft in victory. He is also currently in a position to do so for a second time for himself and a fourth time for the Springboks.

Siya Kolisi

Springbok Rugby World Cup Winning Captains: Siya Kolisi
Image via X @RocNationSports

Siya Kolisi is the third Springbok captain to raise the Rugby World Cup trophy aloft in victory. 

It was a result that many Springbok fans would not have predicted even a few months before the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. An embarrassing defeat to Japan in Rugby World Cup 2015 under the leadership of Heyneke Meyer was followed by two years of turmoil under Alister Coetzee. It was Rassie Erasmus’s appointment as Springbok coach that changed Kolisi’s rugby career and profile from good to iconic. 

Kolisi’s talent and leadership were always there. Erasmus is a man who is not scared to roll the dice and appointed Kolisi as the Springbok captain. He bet on Kolisi and they have both reaped the rewards of that bet.

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Siya Kolisi: The early years

Kolisi’s story is well known. A youngster raised in poverty by his grandmother. He was spotted playing for his club, African Bombers, by a Grey Primary school rugby coach

Kolisi was granted a sports scholarship to attend Grey Primary School. This was soon followed by a scholarship to attend the most prestigious school in his hometown. Grey High.

While he was at Grey High, he represented Eastern Province at the under-16 Grant Khomo Week as well as the under-18 Craven Week tournaments. Upon completing his education, Kolisi left Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) to take up a more lucrative contract in Cape Town, the home of Western Province and the Stormers.

As a tribute to him, Grey High renamed their main rugby field the Kolisi field.

Kolisi’s franchise playing career

Kolisi played 34 games for the Western Province domestic team. He also played 118 games for the Stormers, the regional side that originally competed in Super Rugby and currently in the URC. Since 2021, he also played 30 games for the Sharks.

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Kolisi’s Test career

At the time of writing, Kolisi has played in 78 Tests for the Springboks. As a captain, he has a winning percentage of 66%. Of the three Springbok Rugby World Cup-winning captains, Kolisi is a single percentage point ahead of John Smit and Francois Pienaar, who both ended with a 65% success rate.

The Kolisi Foundation

The Kolisi Foundation was created by Siya and Rachel Kolisi. Their foundation’s vision is to address inequality and to create thriving communities. 

Their activations are numerous and examples can be found here.

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True leadership by a Springbok Rugby World Cup-winning captain

Kolisi is a born leader, despite his humble start in life. That does make him a social chameleon. He can converse and inspire the very poor. His success in rugby has also equipped him to do the same at board level and with well-known international celebrities.

 His dedication to the team ethos of backing your teammates is exemplary. The clip below shows how much he believes in that. Head Coach Jacques Nienaber was batting away questions about Manie Libbok’s kicking form. He rightfully kept on focusing on the fact that Libbok was being named Player of the Match despite missing kicks off the tee. Kolisi took over from Nienaber and reminded everyone of the dynamics of a team game.

Kolisi’s departure to French Top 14 team Racing 92 after Rugby World Cup 2023 will be a loss to the local game. It remains to be seen what the effect will be in the Springbok camp. Will Kolisi retain the captaincy or will the new Springbok coaching team have their eyes set on the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia?

What is certain at the time of writing though is that Siya Kolisi is still on track to become the first Springbok Rugby World Cup-winning captain to lift the Web Ellis Cup for the second time.