Siya Kolisi has been named the most influential person in world rugby by British magazine Rugby World, which has two South Africans in the top ten.
The Springbok captain tops a list that is dominated by money men and administrators, as his latest accolade.
Columnist Stephens Jones says, “Kolisi appreciates the power of rugby, and has the standing, authority and intelligence to be a statesman, to know exactly what he is saying and why it means everything…”
“Kolisi has spent much of lockdown working with his foundation, helping struggling communities,” added Stephens.
One other player made the list, England forward Maro Itoje and three coaches including Rassie Erasmus at number six.
Two women round out the major figures in rugby Dr Eanna Falvey is World Rugby’s chief medical officer, and Katie Sadleir is their head of Women’s Rugby.
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A total of 100 000 raffle tickets were being sold at R32.12, to pay for food parcels and soup kitchens.
The Springboks beat England 32-12 in last November’s final to win the Rugby World Cup for a third time and many of their top players have already launched their own initiatives to collect food for the hungry, notably captain Siya Kolisi.
Those who bought tickets stood a chance to win a host of memorabilia from the tournament donated by the players – a total of 44 prizes (32 + 12).
“When I made the call for the squad to make donations, they were all in within a matter of hours – boots and all!” said coach Rassie Erasmus.
“We talked a bit last year (during the World Cup) about what pressure was – not having a job, having a family member murdered – and now this pandemic has put millions out of work and left as many struggling every day to put food on the table,” he added.