Siya Kolisi’s success story has inspired scores of people around the world

Matthew McConaughey, Roger Federer, Tom Brady, Charlize Theron and Trevor Noah are just some of the stars who have been touched by the Springbok captain’s passion and determination.

From growing up poor to travelling the world to represent South Africa, Siya has overcome mountains to get to where he is today. Despite his challenges, Siya has remained selfless.

“This is for you South Africa,” he said after the Springboks’ World Cup win.

Here’s a look at his inspiring journey

His humble beginnings

Siya Kolisi’s road to the world cup was not without its challenges. Siya comes from a poor family. His parents, Phakama and Fezakele, were still in high school when he was born. Siya grew up in Port Elizabeth’s Zwide township with his granny who struggled to put food on the table.

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“Times were tough when I was little and often there wasn’t food. I would go to bed starving. Sometimes we didn’t have enough money to pay my primary school fees, which were only R50 a year,” he told The Guardian in an interview.

Despite the challenges, Siya excelled at school – especially in sport.

He started his rugby journey in primary school. He attended Emsengeni Primary School and was selected as one of the boys who would play in the Eastern Cape Under 12B side that participated in a rugby tournament in the Western Cape. His performance during the tournament impressed rugby bosses and Siya earned a full scholarship to complete his secondary schooling at Grey High School – well known for its excellence in sport. Peter Pollock and Luke Watson are some of its former pupils.

After high school, Siya would go on to play for Western Province, Stormers and played his first game for the Springboks in 2013.


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12 years ago playing for African Bombers my local club in Zwide … Never dreamt of moments like this! #RWC2019 #humblebeginnings #throwback

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Marrying the woman of his dreams

Siya and his wife, Rachel Smith, began as friends after they met at a dinner in Stellenbosch in 2012. While it was love at first for Siya, Rachel needed some convincing.

“I asked her to lunch and that’s when I told her. She played hard to get in the beginning, but eventually admitted it as well. The rest is history. We have a beautiful family and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her,” he said ahead of their 2016 wedding.

The couple have faced racism throughout their relationship, but don’t let the haters affect their fairy-tale romance.



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Really grateful to be able to share some of these moments with you ❤🙏🏽🇿🇦

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Adopting his siblings

Siya Kolisi’s mother died in 2009 when he was 15. She had two younger children, Liyema and Liphelo, who lived with their father after her death. When he passed away they were put into the social services system. Siya had no idea where his half-siblings where but continued to search for them and tracked them down after receiving information from a cousin about their whereabouts.

“My little sister didn’t know me. She had been crawling when I last saw her. I told the woman taking care of them that I was going to take them for December holidays that year, which I did. But afterwards I said I can’t send them back,” he told The Guardian.

Siya decided to legally adopt his siblings in 2014. They live with their big brother, his wife Rachel and their two children, Nicholas and Keziah, in Cape Town.

Rachel, who worked as an events manager, became a stay-at-home mom to all four children.


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#kolisigang ❤️ @rachel_kolisi

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