Posts tagged as Siya Kolisi

Everyone needs a Joe Sutton in their lives

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 20 July 2013

WHEN renowned journalist Peter Malherbe joined the Sunday Times in the early 80′s – I can safely say before I was even born – he joined an elite group of Dale College old boys that ruled its newsroom.

Then editor Tertius Myburgh and managing editor Joe Sutton were the people in charge of this great establishment. Sutton – as he wrote in the PE Herald earlier this year and I’m purely rehashing his words here – was the old Dalian that had a profound influence on Peter.

Sutton died at the age of 85, in February this year.

Peter wrote after his mentor’s passing:

While the editor is responsible for the political stance of the newspaper and the overall direction it takes, it is the managing editor who is often in charge of the day-to-day running of the paper and putting it all together.

In Joe you got what you saw. He was a kind, friendly man, but determined and dedicated to a fault. If he wanted a particular story that Sunday, he would continue to goad and push reporters and news editors until it landed on his desk. He believed in the Sunday Times and it was during his watch that the newspaper published some of its more memorable stories.

Ironically, I was to follow in his footsteps and become managing editor of the newspaper many years later. One of the things that I tried to emulate was his calm, unflappable disposition – a real challenge on a big newspaper like the Sunday Times. When the going got tough I would think of Joe and his simple approach to most issues. 

Peter went on to become exactly what he wanted to be. A journalist that influenced thought and influenced the times he was living in and when that hat fulfilled him, he moved to Thailand, to satisfy his insatiable appetite for travel and experiencing new things.

Peter was at the Durban office this week, apparently to give the bureau a pep talk, give them insight, enthuse them or spy on them or whatever.

But Peter was candid about the person that was the greatest influence in his life and his career. The person that gave him his first shot in the paper, the one that shaped his  journalistic mind and I’m sure – although I was not there – the person that stood up for him when many in the newsroom would have doubted his ability.

Being a journalist is tough. You need to know enough about everything to write about it, while you beg for insight from the experts of every available field. Then you have to compile that information so that Joe Khumalo down the street may also gain a bit of understanding.

And, Lord forbid, please don’t bore Khumalo to death, he has a wife and two kids to provide for.

We all need a Joe Sutton in our lives.

The person that believes in you, not because they are your relative or they think you’ll pay them back one day. No.

That person who will say: “Kid go to Mauritius, find out who has been running the housing scam that has scavenged millions from South Africans”, even though you might not have a contact in Mauritius or even a passport.

The point is, they trusted you to do the job, and you delivered because you dare not let your mentor  down. You’d die for him, if he sent you the brief. And he will trust you with even bigger assignments because you didn’t let him down the last time and on the cycle goes.

Rugby has plenty “Suttons” in the changing rooms.

These Suttons made sure that the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Pat Lambie  and Siya Kolisi  got their first shots at an early age. And guess what, they didn’t let their Suttons down.

They put their under-developed young bodies on the line, both appeasing the game plan and managing to add a bit of their flair and unique characteristics to their game.

I often wonder and worry about South African sport’s black sheep: soccer.

Soccer in South Africa is loved and enjoyed by many. Those who play it, do their best to make a decent spectacle out of it.

But I often worry that there aren’t enough Suttons in soccer. Guys that are there to mentor, groom and get the best from the player, not just on the field of play but off it.

Often budding soccer players need these mentors in their personal lives too, to get them away from the evils that come with fame and fortune. The good ol’ women and booze.

I was inspired to write this by two things (other than my yearning for the late Sutton): The cover of this month’s Kickoff magazine, which features renowned bad boys Jabu Pule and Steve Lekoelea; and Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo’s impressive performances at the Cosafa Cup for Gordon Igesund’s watered down Bafana squad.

We all know about the famous bad boys so I’m going to head straight to Tyson.

Now, although I’m a firm believer that no single player should ever be praised in a losing cause (you win as a team, you lose as a team) the Ajax defender did his best to put up his hand for future selection. If the team loses, that means all the components that were designed to make it win failed, whether via penalty shoot-out or 90 minutes.

When a car crashes and kills everyone on board because the brakes failed, no one cares that the rear view mirror was positioned correctly. The same applies in team sports.

I feel like I’ve been going on forever. But the point is, Hlatshwayo (23) has entered the Bafana newsroom, it is really up to Gordon Igesund to decide whether he will be Hlatshwayo’s Sutton and include him in the final World Cup qualifier against Botswana or do the other thing that the editors we don’t know did, that Peter didn’t write about.

SIya Kolisi

Get out of my way Sucker!


Posted in


Natives are restless again – Tranformation

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 25 November 2012

It is a long and drawn-out subject, almost as old as sporting culture itself. Its protagonists have recycled their arguments so much that the colours have long faded; its antagonists holding to the “anti-reverse racism” card dearly – brandishing it confidently like a policeman would a warrant of arrest.

Some dread hearing and reading about it, skip the page at the mere mention of the word in the headline. Others, believe it or not, dread having to bring it up but they know that raising the issue is the only influence they have if they want the issue to go away.

It sounds crazy, but that’s the nature if the Catch22 of South African sport.

Ithembelihle Comprehensive School

Itembelihle Comprehensive teammates before a game against Molly Blackburn High School in Uitenhage. Rugby is hugely popular among black people in the Eastern Cape, but gets little official backing Picture: CARLOS AMATO

The transformation in sport issue will not go away until a deliberate attempt is made to empower players of colour in sports such as rugby and cricket.

Over the last month, after the talk shop that was the “Transformation Indaba”, I’ve come across some insightful pieces of writing that I wish more people could see. They aim to uncover why, after so many years of national unity, the levels of black representivity (plus black total pool of players still developing) are still at an unsatisfactory level.

We know that our rural and township schools don’t have gyms, cricket pitches, rugby polls, even rugby balls. It is a monumental struggle for black kids to make it to Springbok/Proteas level if they did not go to schools such as Grey College, Grey High (PE), Dale College, Bishops, Paul Roos, Affies and the like. Of course, some have done it before and hats off to them.

But there are few explanations for some of the nuances that tend to lead to scepticism, if not annoyance, in the black spectator. Being on twitter, you get to receive this scepticism first hand when, say for example on a Wednesday morning, a Springbok starting XV is picked. In it a tortured Francois Hougaard, playing at wing, wishing, hoping to play at his natural position, scrumhalf.

And the camera zooms onto the bench to find an obedient Lwazi Mvovo, also hoping, waiting, wishing for a chance to get into that number 11 jersey. Why pick a No 9 at 11 when you have a No 11 on the bench, I ask?

Will the transformation debate ever go away? For the sake of our sport, I hope so but until then, enjoy some excerpts on the matter:


  1. Why are the Boks so white? – Lloyd Gedye, Mail and Guardian

    White people and affirmative action. It seems so simple, yet so many white South Africans are still grappling with it.


A case in point was when ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe last week made certain comments about the number of black players in the Springbok team.

Mantashe was recently quoted in a Sapa news story as saying that there were several black rugby players good enough to play internationally and they should be selected for the team by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

The context of the comments was the conclusion of the South African Rugby Union’s transformation indaba last week.

One has to ask the question: Why did it take Saru 20 years to launch such an initiative? After all, the Springboks have been back in international rugby since 1992.

But getting back to Mantashe’s comments, they naturally caused a public outcry from white South Africans across the country as they scrambled to accuse the ANC leader of being racist.

A quick scan through the comments under the story, which was run on the SuperSport website, provided ample evidence of the vitriol that followed.

“Make everything black, let’s paint the field black and the ball too and let’s not allow whites to attend the sport, I swear this country can pull anything into a race war, what does it matter what color the players is, watch the sport and support the country,” said one ignoramus.

“Why are there so many black players and no white players in Bafana?” cried another, with what has become an all too regular response of white South Africans who cannot accept the need for affirmative action in sport.

But what infuriates me the most is that the players whom Mantashe wants to be selected, such as Lwazi Mvovo, Siya Kolisi, Elton Jantjies and others whose names have been mentioned, such as Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh, are all in the running for a Springbok berth on merit.

They are great rugby players who have excelled at different times for both their provincial teams and the Springboks.

These are not quota players; they are fully fledged Springboks who have earned their place among the elite of South African rugby.

click here for full article

  1. The development of representation – Clayton Redford

    I admire the fact that SARU is committing to the development of the game in South Africa but I can’t help but feel that we are looking at the problem in the entirely wrong way. Granted, SARU may do a great deal in the short-term future regarding development, but if one is to look at their track record the probability of failure is unavoidable.


To illustrate my concern, I put together the following statistics with regards to representation. I guarantee this will open your eyes.

2011-Mid Year Estimate

South Africa

Male Population








2 052 918

194 879

157 556

2 405 353


1 858 498

180 483

150 937

2 189 918


1 639 101

182 233

143 492

1 964 826


5 550 517

557 595

451 985

6 560 097

% of Total






*Taken from Stats SA’s 2011-Population estimate

The above table represents males from the three race groups which traditionally make up our rugby playing population. I specifically broke it up into the age group which plays rugby professionally, i.e. Ages 20-34. For the sake of comparison, I simplified the race groups into ‘White’ and ‘Non-White’. What this now gives us is a cross-section of the population which could, potentially, play professional rugby.

Currie Cup

Full Squads






Non-white %





















<-2 foreigners of colour





Western Province










  *Currie Cup squad lists taken from SARU’s website.

In stark contrast, the overwhelming majority of Currie Cup players are White, 78.28% to be exact. Ask yourself this question, how does a mere 6.89% of the potential rugby playing population account for an astounding 72.28% of the Currie Cup playing population? To add to this, a great deal of the non-white players do not even start on a regular basis.

 click here for full article

  1. Why Ntini is disillusioned – Firdose Moonda, The Times

For more than a decade as an international cricketer he carried the hopes of the majority of South Africa’s population. Most of the time, he did that alone. He was even expected to continue doing it when he no longer played at the highest level.

Weeks after his retirement, Ntini was named a Cricket SA ambassador. He was going to receive assistance to start an academy in Mdantsane township, in Eastern Cape, which would become one of the best breeding grounds for black African players. None of that has happened.

With that in mind, whether or not some of the fault lies with Ntini, it is understandable that he has become disillusioned.

Development structures are producing black players. Evidence of that can be found on Corlett Drive, where the Highveld Lions fielded four in their most recent One-day Cup match against the Knights, but higher up those players are not being recognised.

Imagine if that had happened to Ntini. (click here for full article)








Heyneke’s Springboks smell of Div’s old socks

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 27 August 2012

IT IS time to swallow a dry, lumpy, spiky object and admit that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer hasn’t provided the “fresh start” many were hoping for. The Springboks are stale and Peter de Villiers’s leftovers are starting to cause a foul smell in the (relatively) new coach’s fridge.

After going through a turbulent marriage with Div, when the highs were intoxicating but the lows suicidal, culminating into a bitter non-renewal of vows, Meyer was supposed to be everything the Springbok ex wasn’t.

But five matches into his tenure, some Bok fans are realising that Meyer keeps forgetting to put the seat down, wash his own plate or take out the rubbish and have started noticing other little nuances that remind them of the ex.

Div would never drop Morne Steyn, Pierre Spies or Bryan Habana when the trio were horribly out of form. He didn’t know what to do with the talented Pat Lambie in his squad (the trend with Springbok coaches is to bench or drop the talented ones and start the statues).

In 2012, the year the world is apparently coming to an end, it appears that the world is in fact carrying on as usual and a Springbok coach still doesn’t know what to do with the most enterprising member of his squad.

There was supposed to be some sort of ceremonious cleansing after the World Cup, it hasn’t come.

Four Nations trophy

Let's stop the competition right now, the All Blacks have already won it

Initially, Meyer did everything right and said all the sweet nothings when he was appointed, going all out to please everyone and getting everyone to support his “win every game” philosophy. It was refreshing to have a Springbok coach that didn’t have illusions about winning a World Cup in four years time and subjecting us to rubbish rugby in the interim.

Meyer is his own man. At the Bulls he did everything according to his style and made the club his Man Cave, where he could pick all the battering rams he wanted and forced them to play according to his style. And it worked.

But Meyer has yet to adjust to his marriage to the entire nation. He can no longer treat the Springboks as his Man Cave. Just a hint, there are uses for players in other unions other than the Bulls.

Meyer is a brilliant coaching coach but, as I quietly suspected, he botched the chance to give the Springboks a fresh start during the England three-match test series.

When the Boks crashed out of the World Cup last year, it was a painful, but the young talent that we had coming through the national team – that Div didn’t really know what to do with – made the pain easier to bear. There was hope of a fresh start.

I’ll acknowledge the inclusion of locks Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and flanker Marcell Coetzee as some sort of signal of newness. But on the whole, the team, especially in the lame draw against Argentina, smelt of Div’s stale socks, which I thought we threw away when Meyer was moving in.

Much like in the final two years of Div’s tenure, the Springboks made the process of scoring a try about as odious as getting a pay increase from a Platinum mine boss.

And what about set plays? Have we forgotten how to cut open defences with four quick, purposeful passes intersected with diagonal runs that confuse the opposition to a standstill?

I’m beginning to wonder what Meyer meant when he said the Springboks should play “winning rugby”.

By his definition WINNING RUGBY is the process in which a flyhalf should ignore all other avenues of attack, resist temptation to draw two or more defenders towards him in order to fling the ball wide to the wings, who will then enjoy an overlap, but MUST ONLY launch the ball high and aimlessly off his boot and hope for the best.

The worst is when this statue game plan cannot even eke out a win against Argentina in our most important rugby competition other than the World Cup.

I, for one, had dreams of the below combinations, being tested against England this year:



  1. Heinrich Brussow     7. Willem Alberts           8. Josh Strauss

or    6. Francois Louw             7. Marcell Coetzee         8. Willem Alberts

or    6. Keegan Daniel            7. Willem Alberts             8. Pierre Spies


Understandably, injuries to Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen soured things but as a proud rugby nation, we can do far better than Jacques Potgieter. No offence bruv but there’s no space to take a run-up in test rugby and without a run-up Potgieter is as useful a Brutal Fruit cider when you really need a beer. I wonder, if Meyer has any regrets, now that Siya Kolisi is out for the rest of the season because of a broken thumb he sustained in the Currie Cup when he should have been in Argentina stopping Julio Cabello from getting his paws in our ruck. Moving on …




  1. Ruan Pienaar          10. Pat Lambie                        12. Frans Steyn                                        13. Juan de Jongh

    11. Francois Hougaard                       14. JP Pietersen

                                        15. Zane Kirchner


            9. Francois Hougaard

                          10. Pat Lambie

                                     12. Jean de Villiers

                                                 13. Juan de Jongh

                           11. Bryan Habana                 14. JP Pietersen

                                                    15. Frans Steyn


9. Francois Hougaard

                               10. Elton Jantjies

                                                 12. Frans Steyn

                                                               13. Jean de Villiers

                                 11. Bryan Habana                       14. JP Pietersen

                                                                 15.  Pat Lambie

And again, injuries to Jaco Taute, Johan Goosen (thank God he’s back) and (recently) JP Pietersen have done their bit to spoil the honeymoon.

Had some of these combinations been tested against England, we wouldn’t have been left not knowing what to do in Mendoza last weekend.


Note: Please add your own possible combinations that you would have liked to have seen being trialled and please agree or disagree with me in the comments below or on twitter @Sbu_Fundraiser.


Don’t walk into a pub in East London and scream Sharks!

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 24 July 2012

Don’t walk into a pub in East London and scream the Sharks have the best balance of skills, game plan and talent of all the South African teams or you might meet hardcore Stormers fans ready to shut you up, Bheki Cele style.

Of course I’m speaking from experience.

My argument was that, although the Sharks have lost six matches to the Stormers’ two this season and have practically lived on the brink of elimination for second half of the season, coach John Plumtree’s men have the tools to beat anyone, anywhere.

I made sure that I was at a safe enough distance to duck any beer that may be flung my way, of course, when I first presented my argument at the pub last Saturday morning. It didn’t help that the five passionate Stormers fans had already had more than six rounds each by the time the Super Rugby quarterfinal between the Reds and Sharks had even started. I suspect that the depressing Bulls performance against the Crusaders had a lot to do with that.

Nonetheless I proceeded to providing evidence for my assertion, while in my mind engineering a safe exit in case I failed to win them over to my school of thought.

I started with the guys that do the heavy duty work, the forward pack. The Sharks front row of Beast Mtawarira and Du Plessis brothers Bismarck and Jannie has been together since 2007 and established themselves as a fearsome trio this year following hooker John Smit’s departure. Beast was absent at the start of the season and it showed.

The Sharks form record, while Beast was out injured, read much like Liverpool FC’s last season form record: L-L-W-W-L-W-L-W-L. Such deep levels of inconsistency took the team to the brink of elimination.

Enter the Beast and suddenly the scrums were not longer going backwards resulting in the transformation of the form book: W-W-W-W-L-W-W-W (including last weekend’s win over the Reds). This may all seem coincidental but as any rugby coach will tell you, combinations are everything in this game therefore having an all Springbok front row would have had Plumtree jumping on his bed in delight.

I received a few disapproving grunts and moans and one oke used the time while I was speaking to order a refill and another dashed to take a leak.

I continued to the lock position, an area where the Sharks have traditionally been criticised, ridiculed and targeted by opposition teams after the retirement of the great mark Andrews and rightly so. But Steven Sykes and Anton Bresler have been steady for the Durban outfit. Throw in the ever-improving 20-year-old Pieter-Steph du Toit and you’ve got, well, locks that can get the job done.

The loose trio of Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee and Willem Alberts has been nothing but sensational. And they’re been boosted by Ryan Kankowski’s recent return to form. By this point the passionate opinionists had stopped interrupting me and, I’d like to believe, were listening to me.

The backline has also been solid. Charl McLeod has distributed well, Michalak has been uncharacteristically consistent of late and JP Pietersen has been sensational.

All in all, the Sharks scored as many tries as the Chiefs and the Crusaders, 47, and gathered the most attacking bonus-points of the South African teams. Their defence has not been shabby either, having conceded only 31 tries. Only the Stormers (21) and the (30) have conceded less.

My point was made but the opinionists began pointing out that the Stormers had topped the log through the sheer determination of some capable back up players.

Siya Kolisi Stormers Flanker

Siya Kolisi's "elated" face

Flanker Siya Kolisi was supposed to play a cameo role this season, shadowing the talismanic Stormers captain Schalk Burger. But when Burger got injured in the first game, Kolisi blossomed into the find of the season, the patrons pointed out.

Joe Pietersen’s reliability at fullback, Gio Aplon’s enjoyable running and Peter Grant’s pivotal role at No 10, they pointed out. Not forgetting SA under-20 prop sensation Steven Kitschoff. The Stormers weren’t pretty to watch, they admitted with slight disapproving scowls on their faces, but they had topped the overall conference and gave themselves a chance at a home final.

More slurry-worded evidence was presented. Eben Etzebeth, the 19-year-old boy thrown into a man’s job and excelling. Bryan Habana’s return to form. All this evidence indeed pointed to a very talented and effective team. One thing lacked: a balanced game plan. The Stormers have a defence that would have rivalled the walls of Troy but they don’t offer a dime on attack.

We agreed to disagree and shook hands. Someone suggested we meet at the same pub to watch the semifinal between the two sides on Saturday. A loud “heck yeah!” erupted. I made a note in my mind at that moment to make sure I didn’t miss my bus back to Durban on Monday.