One of the key selection criteria for the current Springboks coaches involves looking for a point of difference among players.
What sets an individual apart? Call it X-factor or that special something; the Boks under Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have placed a premium on looking for a player who boasts qualities that set him apart from the crowd.
In that context, there is probably no player who better epitomizes this selection criterion than Cheslin Kolbe.
Through sheer weight of performances over his first two years on the test stage, the diminutive Springboks star has blazed his own unique trail in world rugby.
Such has been his success that any conversations around his size have faded into the distance as if mirroring the flailing English defenders who were left in his wake as he blitzed through for his famous try in last year’s World Cup final.
Kolbe – who punches above his weight on defense and seems to defy gravity with his abilities under the high ball – has proven that little men can make it big on the test stage.
Yet, despite his rise to prominence as one of the most highly-regarded players in the world, Kolbe remains as down to earth and humble as they come, unencumbered by his sudden fame and immense popularity.
These off-field qualities were perhaps best demonstrated in an endearing social media post he shared on Instagram back in May.
While many players use that platform to splash pictures of their fame and fortune, Kolbe offered a complete contrast in a heartfelt message raising awareness around crucial outreach work he was involved in during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The joy on those young kids faces, the suffering in our elders' eyes, the struggles in our communities, this is what hit home. This is what makes me want to do more.
“Many people look up to me and many people approach me for help. I honestly want to try to help where I can. It has nothing to do about me or the credits, but it took a lot of me to do this post. I am not posting this to boast or for acknowledgment that I am giving back, I apologise if I am doing this wrong,” he wrote.
His goals to face the British & Irish Lions in 2021
I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I just want to put myself in the best possible position to play in that series by continuing to keep performing for my club.
Having said that, it would be a blessing to be part of the British & Irish Lions series if possible, that would just be a blessing because it only comes around once every 12 years.
The overwhelming number of English supporters who turned up at the World Cup final
From the moment we got to the venue for the warm-up, all we heard was English supporters. I just stood there and saw white jerseys, but we just looked to embrace that.
For some reason or another that just gave us more hunger and energy, we were all aligned and everyone was on the same page.
You could see that from the first tackle and how everyone got back to their feet so quickly after making a hit. We just wanted to leave it all out there, and put our bodies on the line.
Having his wife and daughter in Japan with him
It was such a blessing. I think it really benefited us a team to be allowed to have our partners at the team hotel. When training is done, we could spend time with family, and share moments with them.
It was awesome to have them on this journey with us. You have to sacrifice a lot as a player, but so do our families with all the time we spend away from home. So to experience that all together was very special.
Defying the odds on defense and with his aerial game
For us as wings, we knew the importance of the kick-chase and getting up there to contest, which is something I enjoy. On defence, I have had critics because I’m not one of the biggest guys on the field, but it was a massive part of the Springboks game, and it’s something we get energy out of it. You have to stay connected with your center and make good decisions in reading the game to close down the attacking options. This was something I really had to learn a lot about, but the more I got the hang of it, the more comfortable I became.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
PACIFIC POWER HOUSE
FIJI HAVE NEVER QUITE BEEN ABLE TO FULFIL THEIR ENORMOUS POTENTIAL. BUT THEY MIGHT NOW FOLLOWING THE APPOINTMENT OF VERN COTTER AS HEAD COACH.
THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION
ON AND OFF THE FIELD, SPRINGBOKS WING CHESLIN KOLBE CONTINUES TO MAKE AN INSPIRATIONAL IMPACT.
DEFENCE FORCE ONE
THE BLUES WERE A RADICALLY DIFFERENT TEAM IN 2020 AND MUCH OF THAT WAS DUE TO THEIR VASTLY IMPROVED WORK ON DEFENCE.
THE LONG WALK TO ENTRY
AFTER BEING SNUBBED BY THE GAME’S ELITE FOR 25 YEARS, A PACIFIC ISLAND SIDE FINALLY LOOKS LIKE IT WILL BE GRANTED A PLACE IN SUPER RUGBY AND THE CONSEQUENCES COULD BE SIGNIFICANT.
THE SEARCH FOR MOBY DICK
REPLACING THE WORLD CLASS JEROME KAINO IN THE ALL BLACKS NO 6 SHIRT HAS BEEN THE NEAR IMPOSSIBLE CHALLENGE. BUT MIGHT THE ANSWER HAVE PRESENTED ITSELF DURING SUPER RUGBY?
IN 10se BATTLE
NEW ZEALAND CURRENTLY HAS THE TWO BEST FIRST-FIVES IN WORLD RUGBY VYING TO WEAR THE ALL BLACKS NO 10 SHIRT. IT’S A BATTLE THAT HAS CAPTURED THE PUBLIC IMAGINATION BUT IT MAY BE ONE THAT NEVER QUITE MATERIALISES.
SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
THERE HAVE BEEN MANY FACTORS OUTSIDE OF NEW ZEALAND'S CONTROL WHICH HAVE HAD A MAJOR INFLUENCE ON THE GAME IN THE LAST DECADE.
THE MAN WHO CAN'T BE BROKEN
I GET KNOCKED DOWN, BUT I GET UP AGAIN YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO KEEP ME DOWN…
THE ALL BLACKS HAVE ENCOUNTERED PLAYERS IN THE LAST DECADE WHO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WIELD THEIR INFLUENCE IN THE MOST TELLING WAYS. WE LOOK AT THE FIVE MEN WHO HAVE TROUBLED THEM THE MOST SINCE 2010.
KENDRA COCKSEDGE WINS KEL TREMAIN TROPHY
There was, perhaps, a breakthrough moment of sorts when the Black Ferns were named team of the year at the New Zealand Rugby awards in 2017.
Turbo Teddy takes try of the year prize
SO 2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror and it’s all eyes on 2021 and what that can bring but, strangely, I am convinced rugby’s annus horribilis still contained much action that we will recall fondly in roaring pubs and clubhouses in years to come.
That All Black axe is sharpening its blade
It seemed like a joke worth telling. “What’s the difference between the All Blacks and an arsonist?”, your columnist asked the presenter of a New Zealand radio sports show in the dying weeks of 1998. “Not a clue,” came the reply. “Well…no arsonist would ever lose his last five matches.”
Sport, honesty and the nation
Many of us want our Rugby World Cup win to have lasting impact and continue the feeling of goodwill it generated amongst millions of South Africa. We felt it in the lead up to the final, and strongly during the game, with people gathered throughout the country watching it. We felt it even more so as the final whistle blew, and again at the Springboks homecoming welcome at OR Tambo, followed by the victory parades.
2019 World XV
Rugby World has turned global selector to pick a dream team of this year’s best players
Like Warren, I Dare To Dream Despite Injuries
FOR the neutral rugby fan it’s a great shame this morning’s World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa has been robbed of two big entertainers in Liam Williams and Cheslin Kolbe.
A Conflicted Fan - Racism In South African Rugby
The widows of Marikana. Different faces. The same setting. The same inconsolable fate. The same seething anger at the cops who killed their men and changed their lives forever.