Check out the full explanation why Siya Kolisi was selected at the top of Rugby World magazine’s list of the game’s most influential people.
Kolisi, who captained the Springboks to a World Cup and Rugby Championship double in 2019, was named as rugby’s most influential person in a list compiled every two years – which was published in Rugby World magazine’s August edition.
‘Kolisi, of South Africa – but now one of rugby’s universal soldiers – stands at No 1 in our most influential list, with Maro Itoje close behind at No 3,’ Rugby Worldcolumnist Stephen Jones wrote. ‘Here we have two wonderful men, two men who have always transcended the sport itself, because not only are they both spectacularly good players but they know where the sport fits in the general landscape and are clever enough to be influential away from the rectangle of play.
‘The intriguing probability now rises that they will meet as captains in the British & Irish Lions Test series next year, and what an image that will provide. Kolisi, barring injury, will surely lead the Springboks in the series and Itoje is a big favourite at the bookmakers to be Lions captain. It will be a supercharged Test series but to have two of our top three in charge of the teams would be epic.
‘Clearly, the symbolism of teams at the very top of rugby being led by black players is of mighty significance. Not least because the series takes place in South Africa where, as it must be remembered, rugby was once deemed by the non-white population as almost as big an instrument of apartheid as the police or army. And also because of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Kolisi is definitely the most influential man in rugby at the moment. He’s also probably the most visionary and the most courageous.
‘He clearly has a highly developed social conscience in all aspects. During the Covid-19 crisis, he has played a major role in keeping supplies rolling to hospitals and those needing treatment in South Africa, as well as delivering food parcels to townships. He has also joined the Pandemic Action Network (PAN), which seeks to codify all the torrents of advice and best practice for those who may be confused about the pandemic or not have the best access to advice and treatment.
‘Kolisi is a symbol of rugby excellence and political power, powerful for all those who suffered under apartheid as well as those who visited South Africa under apartheid and had the outrageous fortune to go back as the country, often painfully, made the transition away from apartheid to a political justice, even if social justice remains thin on the ground.’
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