Siya Kolisi spreads gospel with eye-catching segment on US' legendary 60 Minutes

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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
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If the Springboks receive a sharp boost in support from the USA, they should thank Siya Kolisi.

The national skipper's burgeoning reputation as one of the most recognisable world athletes to emerge from South Africa was entrenched late last week after he was featured in a full segment on 60 Minutes, one of America's most respected and longstanding national news programmes.

While some chunk of the insert chronicles his significant playing exploits - Kolisi's excellent showing in the third Test against Wales in Cape Town this year features prominently - it's his inspirational life story and his huge contribution to the Bok brand transcending mere sporting excellence and becoming a beacon of hope for the nation that, rightly, dominates the narrative.

As host Jon Wertheim notes in his introduction: "Captaincy is more important still when your rugby team represents an entire country. So when Siya Kolisi was named captain of the national team, the first black player to hold the honour, it may as well have marked a political appointment.

"Kolisi responded with a singular approach, reconsidering a macho sport and recognising how valuable rugby can be [by] helping bind a country still riven by crime, corruption and inequality."

Kolisi regales how he felt when Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby's director of rugby, confirmed his appointment in mid-2018.

"Honestly I didn't know what it meant," Kolisi told the show.

"I didn't realise how big it was until it was announced. I saw myself in every single newspaper, the headlines. Turn on the TV, everybody's talking about it…I was just happy that I was promoted captain. And then I spoke to people. They're like, 'But you don't understand, like, representation matters.'"

That's also the reason why Francois Pienaar, South Africa's captain in the momentous 1995 World Cup win, believes 2019's success was more significant.

"When your country performs, or an individual performs, you are that person, or you are that team. You wear the colours; you're so invested in the emotions. And I never realised how big it would be. Never," he said.

"In South Africa and the townships across the land, everybody, again, was proud. They were world champions, and that is what sport does. Nothing else can do that."

Following that triumph, Kolisi said he and wife Rachel made a concerted effort to let it count for more, notably establishing their foundation.

"We all want these big moments. It can be just a big moment. That's it... or you can use it for so much more."


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