RUGBY WAGS BACK THEIR BOKS
The men who hold in their hands the country’s hope for the rugby World Cup will be supported, as always, by their wives and girlfriends
Springbok flank Siya Kolisi is known for his excellent handling skills on the field, so it’s no surprise the burly rugby star is equally at home in his son Nic’s nursery, changing nappies. But for the next eight weeks Kolisi’s girlfriend, Rachel Smith, will have to change nappies herself while he steps out in the green and gold at the 2015 rugby World Cup tournament in England.
On Friday, Kolisi hosted his son’s first birthday party under sunny skies at their home in Pinelands, Cape Town, before joining the Bok squad for a final week of training in Joburg today. After weathering a political storm this week, the team will depart for London on September 11.
Smith and Nic are planning to visit Kolisi in the UK, where they will cheer in the stands alongside other Springbok Wags, including Kuziva, the wife of loose head Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira.
Kuziva and their toddlers, Talumba (4) and Wangu (2), will stay in London for about a month.
“It will be fun but quite hectic with two kids in a foreign land,” she tells City Press, laughing.
Before Mtawarira leaves on Sunday, Kuziva plans to make his favourite power dish, chutney chicken with loads of vegetables.
“I help him to eat well. Sometimes I make meals for him way in advance,” she says.
It’s not always easy being the unseen support behind some of the country’s biggest sporting stars.
Smith said it had been difficult – and her plans to resume work in marketing had to be put on hold – while they waited to hear whether Kolisi had made the team.
“It’s very tough for all the women behind the Springboks. It is stressful, waiting and wondering to see whether they’re picked. You have to be strong and calm for your partner; you have to be the backbone.”
Kolisi has had a tough year, with injuries breaking his stride. He has credited his stable home life for keeping him grounded.
“Last year was a terrible season and I was expecting also. It was tough,” recalls Smith.
Kolisi’s formative years were no picnic either. He learnt to drive only two years ago, when Audi chose him as their brand ambassador – and paid for him to get his driver’s licence.
The couple fell in love after meeting at a friend’s dinner party in Stellenbosch.
“I’ve always been a tomboy and I’ve always gone to rugby games, but never really watched him specifically, you know,” says Smith. “After meeting that night – I was a bit starstruck – we became really good friends and then we fell in love.” On Friday, Nic – his full name is Nicholas Siyamthanda – ate popcorn and cake in their garden. They decorated it in white and blue, in keeping with the Stormers, whom Kolisi represents.
During a photoshoot with City Press, the man known for his brutal tackles on the field wrapped his large hands gently around his son.
“Eight weeks is a terribly long time. We’ll miss Siya a lot,” Smith said.
“I can’t wait to go over there [to London]. It will be my first time abroad, too. It has been nervewracking – but such an exciting time.”
Other Springbok wives and girlfriends expected to travel to London include Schalk Burger’s wife of three and a half years, Michele, who is the mother of his two sons, and Pat Lambie’s wife of 20 months, Kate.
It is not clear, however, whether Lambie will take his lucky underpants to the UK.
Kate has admitted that her sweetheart is slightly superstitious, giggling over his “lucky jocks” habit in past interviews.
Siya Kolisi and his partner, Rachel Smith, with their son Nic
Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira with his bride, Kuziva Makure; and Schalk Burger with his wife, Michele