Siya Kolisi; South Africa’s First Black Captain

Siya Kolosi leading the national team to glory


Did you know that in its 127 year old history, the South African national rugby team Springboks has never had a black captain? In May 2018, Siya Kolosi became the first black person ever to be selected by the South African Rugby Union to act as captain of the national rugby team.

Born in Eastern Cape Township, Kolisi has arisen from humble beginnings to ascend to captainship of the Springboks. Kolisi made his senior international debut in 2015 against Scotland where he was later named man of the match.

Following his selection as captain, Bryana Habana, Springboks all-time scorer tweeted; “Too proud!!! You’ve come a long way my friend.”


The historic selection of Siya Kolosi as captain was confirmed by Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s rugby union coach. His teammates say that Kolosi is a hardworking player who is always concerned with the wellbeing of other players and works towards the success of the Springboks.

Kolisi’s journey begun when scouts at a youth tournament in Zwide took notice of his great gamesmanship and as a result, this earned him a scholarship to Grey Junior School. He acknowledges that this became the life changing moment in his life.

While playing his first provincial trials, Kolisi played with a pair of silk boxers since he didn’t have any rugby shorts with him.

His debut in senior rugby in the Western Province was in 2011 before making it to DHL Stormers, the Super Rugby’s side. Today, he also captains the DHL Stormers.



Kolisi says that one of the things that encourages him to play rugby is to inspire others especially young people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. To him, everything is possible through hard work and discipline. Self-believe, he says can also take one a long way into achieving success.

In their First Test in Johannesburg, under the captainship of Kolosi, the Springboks beat England 42- 39.  The inspiration Kolosi has brought to the national team has been likened to the time Nelson Mandela donned a Springbok’s jersey and cap in 1995. In their final match, South Africa beat New Zealand 15 – 12 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Nelson Mandela, 1996. Source: brand SA


In 1995, when President Mandela watched the final between South Africa and New Zealand, Kolisi was only 4 years old, and was being raised in the township of Zwide in Port Elizabeth. His story is truly that of transforming from grass to grace. Kolisi’s grandmother died when he was only 10 years and his mother passed away six years later. Growing up was a great challenge yet he is proud of the achievements he has been able to achieve to this day.

In their final game with Argentina, on August 18th 2018, Springboks beat Argentina 34 – 21 in their Rugby Championship match under the captainship of Siya Kolosi.

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