Sbu Nkosi Australia vs Springboks

Sbu Nkosi has been found. Photo: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP via Getty Images

Sbu Nkosi insists he’s ‘still in love’ with rugby

Springboks wing Sbu Nkosi has said he needs to be a functioning person before he can turn attention to being a rugby player once again.

Sbu Nkosi Australia vs Springboks

Sbu Nkosi has been found. Photo: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP via Getty Images

After disappearing without any word last month, the Bulls were able to confirm this week that Sbu Nkosi had been found “safe and sound”, having ultimately been tracked down at his father’s house in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga.

When speaking to Sport24, Nkosi revealed he has been contending with severe mental health battles after going missing for three weeks.


Previous attempts to assist him in finding help for mental health issues seemingly hadn’t worked out as hoped, while it’s evident that his rugby career will now indefinitely be put on the backburner as he prioritises his overall wellbeing.

“I’m still in love with the sport. It runs through my veins,” Nkosi told Media24. “Those are the moments that I hold onto that give me light.

“But we don’t only spend time on the field. I don’t think that will ever die. There’s many of them. But at this point, before I can be a rugby player, I need to be a functioning person. The human being is more important than the rugby player.”

Bulls Chief Executive Edgar Rathbone also spent time with Nkosi “to understand how best the company can provide him with the support he needs, and what that support is”.

At a media briefing on Tuesday, Rathbone reiterated that they would continue to assist Nkosi in any way possible, while acknowledging that every effort would be made to ensure the process of identifying and assisting players with mental health issues would be refined and improved.

He also called on critics, or those taking mental health issues lightly, to undergo some introspection.

“Looking at comments on articles, and social media, it’s quite frightening that stones can be thrown so quickly at someone. I think we all need to look at ourselves, considering that everyone is going through different challenges, we’re not immune to it. We have to have some respect, rugby players are not robots or machines, they’re human beings. And human beings read stuff, and see comments, and they are not immune to it.”


Nkosi joined the Bulls from the Sharks earlier this year at a time when it seemed that he was battling with form and fitness, while enduring struggles with some off-field issues.

The MyPlayers organisation has also issued a statement on Sbu Nkosi & Mental Health in Professional Rugby

On behalf of our members, staff and board, MyPlayers would like to express its considerable relief that Springboks and Bulls winger Sbu Nkosi has been found and that he is physically unscathed. We also want to express our gratitude to the Blue Bulls Company for their efforts to find and reach out to the player, and especially to Bulls CEO, Edgar Rathbone, for involving us as early as he did.

As in other industries and occupations, mental-health challenges are also prevalent in the professional rugby industry, and supporting athletes in this regard goes beyond just preparing them mentally to deliver strong performances on the rugby pitch. Professional athletes are people, first.

The concerns for Sbu’s safety during the past three weeks were a reminder of this. However much we wish he did not have to go through this experience, the industry – from players to employers, to representative organisations – should embrace this as an opportunity to do introspection, learn, grow, and elevate the importance of mental health support in our environment. By working together more closely, we can provide better proactive support to athletes in need of mental care.

As the Players’ Organisation, we are providing all the necessary support to Sbu and the Bulls during this time. Out of respect for Sbu’s privacy, we will not disclose the nature of our support, but we are grateful to be in a position to be there for him and his employer as we embark on this journey together.

At this time, MyPlayers will not provide any further comment on the matter


Sbu Nkosi Springboks
Springboks winger Sbu Nkosi. Image via Instagram @sbu_nkosi14.