I don’t get rugby… but Siya Kolisi’s arms

Now, thankfully, we have four years to recover. But what on earth has happened to me?


I never understood rugby. Never “got” it. And yet somehow on Saturday night I played every second of that match. Didn’t we all? By the end I was flapping on the edge of the couch, squawking, trying not to vomit. Never have seven seconds been so interminable. After the final whistle, I was shaking. I wanted Siya Kolisi to comfort me in his beautiful arms (sorry, Rachel). ALSO READ: ‘A miracle’ - Rachel Kolisi and kids celebrate World Cup win with Siya My son, watching in Paris, plans to run away with Faf (sorry, Miné). He declared there should be…

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I never understood rugby. Never “got” it. And yet somehow on Saturday night I played every second of that match. Didn’t we all?

By the end I was flapping on the edge of the couch, squawking, trying not to vomit. Never have seven seconds been so interminable.

After the final whistle, I was shaking. I wanted Siya Kolisi to comfort me in his beautiful arms (sorry, Rachel).

ALSO READ: ‘A miracle’ – Rachel Kolisi and kids celebrate World Cup win with Siya

My son, watching in Paris, plans to run away with Faf (sorry, Miné). He declared there should be a legally mandated day off for stress, to regain normal life expectancy.

Mandatory defibrillation, and the whole week off, I countered. Legalise drugs for the week, he added.

Now, thankfully, we have four years to recover. But what on earth has happened to me?

A memory: Rugby World Cup Final 1995. My sister and I were at Eastgate where we had the place to ourselves.

Well, apart from the on-duty staff – but they’d brought their TVs to work so we vaguely followed the score as we browsed, mightily pleased with our own cleverness, delighted not to be watching.

I mean, the rainbow nation may have survived the 1994 election; yes, we were world players now – but why did they keep throwing the ball backwards?

And why was a try not called a succeed? When we were at school – white, English-speaking school – football was the game of choice, or soccer as we called it.

Rugby was the sport of the Afrikaans hoërskool down the road, of the kids who didn’t wear shoes, the kids we sparred with, yelling “Dutchman” to their “rooinek”.

But over the years the balance shifted. After the 1994 election, the 1995 World Cup win was pivotal.

That day, the country realised that just maybe we could make this work together, that united we could stand.

WATCH: ‘They don’t understand what this means for SA’ – Siya Kolisi

Sure, rugby wouldn’t solve racism but it was a decent Band-Aid.

And my old high school’s football nets have since been replaced by rugby posts.

And my own sons played rugby at school, not “soccer”, and I’d find myself watching snatches of games with them, and they’d explain the rules to me, or try to: rooks, scrums, hookers, touchlines, whatever, so long as South Africa was winning.

No, I still don’t understand rugby. But I get it, oh man, I get it.

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