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Siya Kolisi: The First Black Captain of the South African Rugby Team


In 2017, Siya Kolisi made history when he became the first black captain of the South African rugby team, the Springboks. Kolisi has been part of the team since his debut in 2013, and his increasing influence led him to wear the armband. In this article, we’ll tell you more about his career.

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Siya Kolisi’s Early Life

Siya Kolisi was born on 16 June 1991 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. His grandmother raised him after his mother died. Life was tough for them. He didn’t have many resources and, at times, slept hungry. Despite the hardships, Kolisi is still grateful for his early years.

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Introduction to Rugby

Kolisi wandered around his neighborhood looking for things to do. He came across a field where he spent most of his time. He watched others play and was inspired. 

At the age of 12, as he was playing on the field, a coach scouted him and he later got a scholarship to attend Grey Junior School.

“If the field and the team weren’t there, I don’t know where I would’ve ended up. I was really happy and it inspired me and it taught me who I am.” Kolisi told CBS News.

Kolisi became a regular in the 15s team and was incorporated into the Eastern Province Kings, where he played between 2007 and 2009. He also played for the Grant Khomo and Craven Week and then joined Western Province. Kolisi was also part of the junior national rugby team. 

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Senior Club Career

After spending some time with the Western Province junior side, Siya Kolisi made his debut for the senior team in 2011 during the Vodacom Cup. He stayed with the group until 2021 and made 34 appearances, and scored 35 points.

In 2012, Kolisi also played for the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship. He made his presence known after he scored two tries in 13 appearances. This led to his first call-up to the Springboks in 2013 and played in the Rugby Championship

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When he returned to the Stormers, Kolisi took the captain’s armband and played for the team until 2020. In 2021, he joined the Sharks on a multi-year deal. Kolisi explained that he joined because he’s always wanted to be the best.

“I’ve always wanted to play with the best and reach my potential and joining this team is another step in maximizing my achievements with my career,” Kolisi told TimesLive.

The loose forward so far has 30 appearances and 20 points for the Sharks.

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International Career

Kolisi has made 76 appearances and scored 45 points for the Springbok. He represented South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In 2018, Kolisi made history when he became the first black captain of the Springboks

His first game was a test match against England. In the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he led the Springboks to the Webb Ellis Cup. This made him the first black captain of a World Cup-winning side.

He talked to BBC Sport about the moment he was given the armband by former coach Rassie Erasmus.

“It was difficult to become the captain of the Springboks. There isn’t a greater honor than playing for the national team. It was difficult being the first black captain. It means so much for so many people and I didn’t understand the weight of it.” Kolisi told BBC Sport.

In the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Kolisi captained the Springboks for the 50th time, a moment he says he never thought would come for him.

“I never thought it would happen. Where I come from, I didn’t have dreams like that,” he said.

Kolisi will always be part of South Africa’s rugby and sporting history. 

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