Siya Kolisi 2018

Siyamthanda (Siya) Kolisi is the first African to captain the South Africa national rugby team, the Springboks, in their 126-year history.

He grew up in the impoverished Zwide township in Port Elizabeth and endured a tough upbringing. His natural sporting ability was evident from early in his life and at age 12, he impressed talent scouts at a youth rugby tournament in Mossel Bay and was offered a scholarship at Grey Junior in Port Elizabeth.

He subsequently moved to Grey High School, where he played for the first XV rugby team. He was part of the Eastern Province Kings youth set-up between 2007 and 2009, playing in the Under-16 Grant Khomo week and the Under-18 Craven Week before shifting west to join Western Province. Kolisi was a member of the South Africa under-20 side that competed in both the 2010 and 2011 IRB Junior World Championships.

In 2012, Siya graduated to the Stormers squad where he made an immediate impact, holding his place in the team the following year, despite fierce competition among the loose forwards. Thirteen appearances and two tries were recorded, earning him his first international recognition and inclusion in the Springbok team for the 2013 Rugby Championship.

He made his Springbok debut on 15 June 2013 against Scotland at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, coming on in the 5th minute and was named Man of the Match. Nine further substitute appearances followed during the 2013 international season during which he firmly established himself as a regular member of the national squad.

His playing track-record and on-field leadership capability saw Siya selected as captain of the Stormers in 2017 and then as the captain of the Springboks in May 2018, a monumental moment for South African rugby.

Siya is on the board of directors of MyPlayers, the players' organisation of all professional rugby players in South Africa. He is also an advocate for the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, an initiative of the international advocacy organisation Global Citizen, calling world leaders to honour their responsibilities in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030.

For his incredible sporting prowess and his focus on humanitartioan work, the Nelson Mandela University Council is honoured to present Siyamthanda Kolisi, with a Council Prestige Award.