What an amazing thing to happen to South Africa, to have a black captain, the first black captain ever, take that country on to win a rugby world cup. It’s just incredible.
I don’t think it’s properly sunk in yet what a big deal this is. Siya Kolisi is more than just a rugby player; he’s an emblem.
Kolisi’s story is amazing. He grew up poor. His favourite toy apparently was a brick. His mum died when he was a teenager, his grandmother raised him but died soon after his mum. He used to go to bed some nights hungry. He relied on the jam sandwiches he got at school.
12 years ago, when the Springboks won the RWC, he watched the game in a pub because he couldn’t afford a TV.
There’s so much prejudice in South Africa, prejudice against poor black kids like Kolisi who get written off because they’ve grown up in a township. Prejudice against interracial couples, like Kolisi and his wife Rachel, who is white and who cops abuse for their marriage from both sides.
It would’ve driven so many people crazy that this guy was the captain. It completely reversed how things used to be the past, the leader was always white - and it would’ve been so easy for Kolisi to have been written off as token.
But if anyone even dared to think that, he’s proved them wrong. Kolisi and every other player of colour in that squad, earned and deserved their place there.
If you’re listening to this and thinking ‘bit of an overreaction’, I promise you it’s not.
Half my family live in South Africa. My dad’s family are kiwi, but the du Plessis part of my surname comes from my mum’s family are South African.
I’m a bit reluctant to name names because people are private, but someone in my mum’s family, who is white, is married to a woman of colour. I’m really proud of them for doing that, being brave enough to get married, because while we wouldn’t think anything of that over here, it is not normal over there, and they know it, because people seem to want to make sure they know it.
We probably have no idea here, but for that country, rugby is huge. The Springbok captain is a legend, and this time around he just happens to be black guy, who grew up poor, is now the husband of a white woman and the father of mixed-race kids.
So a lot of young kids there will be growing up seeing that and thinking THAT’S normal because it should be.