Our weather, friendly people, sense of family and, of course, Saturday afternoon braais are what melt the hearts of SA’s tough rugby players.
Sharks player Aphelele Fassi – who scored a try in his Test debut in 2021 – gives a whopping thumbs-up to South Africa’s diversity and gorgeous weather. He says he is a strong supporter of traditions and speaks with pride of his cultural initiation into manhood. “Every South African loves a Saturday afternoon of rugby, a braai and a beer. Braais gathers friends and family members and allow them to catch up on each other’s lives. “It means a lot to us!”
Hyron Andrews – a Sharks player who stands 2.03m tall – loves living in our ‘rainbow nation’, with its wonderful diversity. He says the fact that weekend braais are woven into the fabric of our society means that South Africans get together often, which allows us to connect with each other. “Yoh, it means everything!”
Asked what he loves about SA, Sharks midfielder Jeremy Ward says: “The people! We bring a vibe and an atmosphere that you cannot match anywhere else in the world, and being part of that is very special.” Being Greek, a favourite tradition is Christmas Day around the fire. “A big souvla… big lamb chops on the fire – that is a special memory to me. Braais are about good people, good food and sometimes good beer too.”
Former Varsity Cup player and current Cheetahs centre Evardi Boshoff says that thanks to SA’s diversity, we are privileged to be able to learn from other cultures. He remembers wonderful childhood Saturdays spent watching rugby and gathering around the coals with loved ones. As a result, he says, whenever he is at a braai, he thinks of his parents, brother, sister and grandparents.
Cheetah players Oupa Mohoje – who has donned a Springbok player’s jersey on several occasions – and experienced lock Victor Sekekete agree that thanks to all the cultures in SA, they ‘get to learn and get out of their comfort zone’. Mohoje says a family tradition that stands out for him is going back home to QwaQwa, where a cow would be slaughtered and the family would make stew and braai together. About a braai, they say: “It’s all about the gees [spirit]! The guy who has the tongs is basically the big boss. He wants to prove himself to his friends.”
Leopards player Siya Mdaka, who has often captained the team, is proud of SA’s spirit of resilience when faced with adversity – and our practice of Ubuntu. “And we have one of the best climates for sport and entertainment.” Braais are number one, he says, because they allow us to spend quality time with loved ones, reminiscing about the stuff we did growing up, catching up on what we are doing now and playing games.”
WATCH: Join Currie Cup champs the Pumas around the braai
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