Siya Kolisi: Everything you need to know about the inspirational Springbok skipper

Lawrence Nolan
Springbok caption Siya Kolisi holding the Rugby World Cup.

Springbok caption Siya Kolisi holding the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa’s current skipper, the first black captain in South Africa’s history, and one of the world’s premier flankers, Siya Kolisi has a place in modern South African rugby history at least rivalling Francois Pienaar after he lifted the World Cup in Japan in 2019.

He has made his way up from beginnings nowhere near good enough to be described as humble – his favourite childhood toy was a brick – to the pinnacle of his career, all with an almost effortless grace and calm.

Married with two children and two siblings whom he has formally adopted, Kolisi has begun to use his enhanced global profile for philanthropic ends within inequality-riven South Africa, forming the Kolisi foundation with his wife. When not doing that, he is a mad-keen surfer and spends the F1 season glued to the screen. He is also on the board of directors of the Players’ Association in South Africa, MyPlayers Rugby.

Siya Kolisi career

Kolisi was handed a rugby ball at the age of seven at his local club the African Bombers in Port Elizabeth, where five years later his talent was spotted by two local scouts. His biggest break was probably having a rugby scholarship arranged for him at the prestigious local school, Grey Junior, on the basis of some impressive displays in a junior tournament down the coast in Mossel Bay.

Grey, and later Grey High, put him on the rugby radar and after leaving school, having impressed at the talent pooling Craven Week, he was given an initial contract with Western Province, which helped propel him into the South Africa Under 18 team as well. His progress continued almost unabated, with only the usual attritional injuries hampering progress.

A Vodacom Cup debut came for Western Province in 2011, and squad injuries saw him move up to the Currie Cup squad the same year and make 13 appearances, scoring four tries. In 2012 he was moved up to the Stormers’ Super Rugby squad, playing in all 16 matches in his first season and scoring a try. He has made 30 appearances overall for Western Province and is now a centurion for the Stormers.

In 2013 he was taken into the full international set-up, having made eight appearances for the U20 side in 2010 and 2011. His debut came slightly earlier than planned but was a significant moment. He came on as a sub in the fifth minute against Scotland on June 15, 2013 and ended up man of the match in a 30-17 win. His next twelve appearances were also from the bench, including the shock defeat to Japan in the 2015 World Cup, before a run-on debut against Ireland in June 2016, just before his 25th birthday.

In February 2017 he was handed the captain’s armband at the Stormers, and he scored his first international try, against France in Durban, in June that year and was given the armband of the national team on May 28, 2018, becoming the first black player to lead the Springboks in a match against England two weeks later. He developed a good relationship with head coach Rassie Erasmus, culminating in the World Cup Final win against England in November 2019.

After the World Cup triumph Kolisi and other South Africans spent a year away from Test rugby due to the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Springboks returned to the field in 2021 for the British & Irish Lions series where the world champions claimed a 2-1 win in front of empty stands in Cape Town.

The same year the inspirational star made the move up to the coast to the Sharks as part of a big recruitment drive for the recently acquired Durbanites. Kolisi endured a mixed time with the club where he returned to some of his best form but the team failed to make a significant impact.

He made the decision to sign for Racing 92 in 2023 and will join the French side after the World Cup. In his final game for the Sharks, Kolisi suffered a serious knee injury, throwing his dreams of defending the Webb Ellis Cup at risk.

However, the superstar is tracking well in his rehabilitation and will lead the Springboks at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Siya Kolisi family

Kolisi’s mother was a teenager when he was born and she subsequently passed away, leaving Kolisi to be raised by his paternal Grandmother. Things, especially food, were tight and he says he only went to school because the food was there. But when his Grandmother died in his arms at the age of 12, he dropped out of school too, and he could have been lost to the usual challenges of poverty had it not been for rugby. He is now married to Rachel and has two children, a son, Nicholas, and a daughter, Keziah. He has also formally adopted two half-siblings he discovered he had, Liyema and Liphelo.

Siya Kolisi net worth

A couple of years ago, South Africa’s gossip columns reckoned Kolisi’s net worth is around $2m. He has endorsement deals with several brands, including one with Jay-Z’s management company Roc Nation Sports. Other deals are with local telecom company MTN and Land Rover. He is also one of South Africa’s faces for Adidas and has a line in underwear called Frankees with former Western Province team-mate Tim Whitehead.

READ MORE: Francois Pienaar: Everything you need to know about the Springbok legend