In a feature from SA Rugby magazine, we caught up with former Blitzboks captain Mpho Mbiyozo.
Mpho Mbiyozo played a major part in the Blitzboks’ first World Rugby Sevens Series victory in 2008-09, captaining the team along with Mzwandile Stick.
A strong ball-carrier and terrific stepper, Mbiyozo says he still derives a lot of pride from what the team achieved that season.
‘I’m incredibly proud of our achievement. It was a helluva reward for all the hard work we put in, not just from the playing group but the coaching group and team sponsor, which was monumental in setting up the current base in Stellenbosch.’
After the 2009-10 sevens season, Mbiyozo switched back to fifteens, returning home to the Eastern Cape to join the newly created Kings franchise.
‘I had been part of something special with the sevens team and was keen to be involved in another special project, in my home province. But things didn’t pan out the way I had envisioned.’
Mbiyozo only played a single Super Rugby match for the Kings in 2013.
‘The lack of game time frustrated me. It was true test of my character and how much I loved the game. In saying that, it’s the ruthless nature of the game.’
Mbiyozo had, however, been part of something special with the Kings in 2009 when he started against the British & Irish Lions.
‘I was still part of the sevens setup then,’ he recalls. ‘It was a dream come true and a privilege to be part of that spectacle. I still have Joe Worsely’s jersey hanging on my wall.’
LIFE AFTER RUGBY
Mbiyozo hung up his boots in 2013, before taking on a player-coach role with the Spanish University of Vigo. He then linked up with coach Stanley Raubenheimer at the Boland Rugby Institute.
‘Stan was my first senior provincial coach, an honest man of extremely high integrity. They were looking for a forwards coach and it wasn’t too hard to say yes.’
Mbiyozo is currently furthering his coaching education in Christchurch, where he has relocated with his family, after spending a month in New Zealand last year.
Mbiyozo and wife Aimee-Noel have three children, Khaya (6), Vukile (4) and Alakhe (2). The family is quite active.
‘We spend a fair number of hours on the trampoline and just in doing things together as a family, nothing extravagant nor out of the ordinary,’ he says. ‘The two younger boys are happy and running into anything, be it human, walls or trees. The eldest girl has an academic streak which is much better than smashing into things I think.’
By Dylan Jack