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Siya Kolisi plays with children after his foundation and OneSight EssilorLuxottica provided free eye examinations and glasses to youngsters from underresourced communities. Picture: RUVAN BOSCHOFF
Siya Kolisi plays with children after his foundation and OneSight EssilorLuxottica provided free eye examinations and glasses to youngsters from underresourced communities. Picture: RUVAN BOSCHOFF

SA’s double World Cup-winner Siya Kolisi has vivid memories of a tough upbringing, which means no rampaging tighthead prop or 150kg lock can strike fear into him ahead of two Tests against Ireland in July, which may be his last as skipper.

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has hinted he may appoint a new captain this year or next, preferring a locally based option, but he may wait until after the eagerly awaited series with Andy Farrell’s side.

Kolisi, 32, moved to France to play for Racing 92 this season, having led the Springboks to World Cup triumphs in 2019 and 2023, the latter after pressure-filled knockout wins over hosts France, England and New Zealand — each by a single point.

Some might call it luck, but for Kolisi and a number of his teammates the mental fortitude to come through those tight contests stems from difficult childhoods in SA.

“The stuff that I saw as a child was not good for a child to see, and I saw it so many times,” Kolisi told the Mind Set Win podcast when discussing the inequality, unemployment and violent crime in his home country.

“I saw a therapist and started speaking, learning how to express myself, sharing my feelings, and it helped me get through so many things.

“I have doubts in myself, but I never have doubts in my team. I know who I have next to me and around me. For us as a team, we come from SA and we face challenges every day.

“We’ve been through far worse than a rugby game. A rugby game is just another day, another walk in the park.”

Kolisi will go down in history as one of rugby’s greatest captains, a man who united a team, and to a large extent a country, and drove them to success. But he wants to be remembered for a lot more than that.

“[I don’t want to be remembered] for the things I do on the field. What I want to be remembered for is the work I do with my foundation,” he said.

The Kolisi Foundation focuses on education and sport, gender-based violence and food security for communities.

“I think that has a much bigger impact because the trophies and all the achievements — the records that we set, somebody else will come and break them.

“But I think the lives that you touch off the field, like we do with my foundation, it’s some of the work that I needed as a child that I wish somebody had done for me.”

Reuters

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