On Monday, May 28, 2018, history was made and another plus in post-apartheid South Africa when Siya Kolisi was announced as the Springboks captain, the first time in the team’s 127-year history the armband has been given to a black player.
Kolisi would lead his teammates out for the first time next month when the South African rugby team partake in the three-test home series against England.
Though not his first time as a captain after a temporary stint run as captain in a test in 2017 when Eben Etzebeth was injured during a game in Wales. However, this move is more permanent.
Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley, who has been South Africa’s regular captain for the past two years, are out injured and there is no timeframe on their return, so Kolisi was formally given the job by new coach Rassie Erasmus ahead of the start of the season.
Kolisi’s appointment is a pivotal moment in the Springboks’ history, as South Africa continues to tear away from a past defined by tyrannical and racist white rule of the apartheid period; an important milestone in South African rugby’s ongoing efforts to reconcile its past with its present.
It is a very sharp turn from a period when only whites were allowed to play for the Springbols until Errol Tobias in 1981. Even though other black players have been called up since then, it took another 27 years before one was made captain.