Siya Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: BackpagePix

Siya Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: BackpagePix

Kolisi opens up on impact of Rassie, racial inclusion

Siya Kolisi has spoken about how Rassie Erasmus helped transform the Springboks and ensure players of all colours felt ‘heard’.

Siya Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: BackpagePix

Siya Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: BackpagePix

Siya Kolisi recently led the Springboks to back-to-back World Cup titles, having maintained an incredible bond with his long-time coach Rassie Erasmus.

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In an interview with the Daily Mail, Kolisi has now spoken more about leadership at the Springboks, and what makes it so special.

“When I was younger, living in the township, my mindset was survival. How do I make it through the day? Now I want to encourage people in the township to think big. Have wild dreams. What would I tell young Siya? I would say actually dream about being a doctor, dream about being Springbok captain, because it’s possible.

“We don’t want it to end on the rugby field. When we fight, we don’t fight for ourselves, we fight for those that are coming after us. They will look at us and see our representation. Diversity is our strongest point and that’s what we should use as a country.

“We want people to have humanity again, where we care about each other. If I’m doing well and you’re struggling, then I’m not doing well until you do well. That’s how we live in our team.

“Coach Rassie (Erasmus) was so good at bringing that in, making sure we mind each other and understand each other. What do the black guys like? We like to sing before we play. Some guys are not used to that so let’s talk about it. Why do we sing? We’ve been singing since we were young. When I was young, I would sing when I was sad, happy, hungry

“When other people join in, it felt like they were carrying my burden with me. Sometimes we don’t even need to warm up, we just sing together and it makes you warm from the inside out. After a while, some of the guys who are not black started singing and now they know the songs. Felix Jones is from Ireland and he could sing the words.”

Could Kolisi go into politics?

With his inspirational leadership and unifying mentality leading many to suggest that Kolisi could be hugely successful in a political position in the country when he retires.

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However, he explained that his real passion would lie with philanthropy through his foundation when he does call it a day on his rugby career.

“Politics? Nah. You don’t want to see me there,” Kolisi said. “I’m going to dedicate myself to my foundation. I went to New York last week and did some fundraising for it.

“South Africa is number one in the world in gender-based violence. My aunt and my mum were the first people I knew that were being abused.

“In my community you see it so many times that it becomes normal. That’s not good, being immune to things like that. If a man and a woman argued then it would end up in a fight, because men don’t really speak.

“I learnt to speak by going through therapy. I had to go to marriage counselling because I couldn’t give everything to my wife, because my heart was so hard and I didn’t know how to speak.

“In my late 20s, I started talking to someone and the first time I went she said: ‘You are damaged in every level. The stuff that you saw is not normal’.

“It’s extreme, it’s bad. You have to speak about it, get through it. That’s why you grow up and your heart is so hard. Something happens in the community, you fight with someone, forgive them, and you move on. That’s normal in my neighbourhood.”

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Siya inspired on trophy tour

After a whirlwind trophy tour after winning the World Cup, Kolisi shared how much it meant to the team and country.

“It’s been wild. The trophy parade in 2019 was big but this was 20 times bigger,” he said.

“A lot of people have been in a dark place but you could see their joy when we travelled around South Africa. It’s like they had been waiting for something to lift them.

“Some people couldn’t afford to watch us at home during the World Cup because you have to pay for the TV. People started opening up malls at 10pm to watch us play. Different backgrounds, different races, all sitting together.

“When we went home I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In Cape Town, the bus couldn’t move. You’d look up and you couldn’t see land, you just see people. Then you turn a corner and there are even more people. It was special.”

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