Siya Kolisi unplugs from online abuse

21 September 2023 - 16:48
By Liam Del Carme in Paris
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi during their press conference at Le Domaine des Vanneaux Golf Hotel & Spa in Presles, outside Paris on Thursday.
Image: Paris Steve Haag/Gallo Images Springbok captain Siya Kolisi during their press conference at Le Domaine des Vanneaux Golf Hotel & Spa in Presles, outside Paris on Thursday.

Rugby, for most of its jacket and tie existence, has portrayed itself as the gentlemen’s game.

For obvious reasons it now sees something else in the mirror.

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It is a game with an ever-expanding base and while that in its broad definition should be welcomed, it has also attracted less desirable devotees.

Battle lines between fans have never been as distinct as they are now. The proliferation of social media has helped fan flames of indifference and hate.

Siya Kolisi finds elements of social media way too X-rated.

He says he's far too sensitive to expose himself to online abuse.

“The opinions that matter to me most are those of my teammates, my coaches and my colleagues and the people who support us, the friends back home.

“I try not to read that or hear what people are saying. It can take you to a different place. But I'm not good at that because I'm very sensitive. I'll get a bit emotional about it.

“It will affect me a bit. So that's why I choose not to. I used to read it when I was younger, but now I choose not to and just listen to what my teammates think.”

The Springbok captain said he is all for people expressing their excitement for the game, but “I don't want people to be abusing each other because of a rugby game”.

“On the weekend it's about being competitive and that is the ultimate thing, like us playing against Ireland. We don't hate each other. We just want to play good rugby competitively, representing a nation. And after that, no matter what the results are, shake hands and have conversations.

“If I make a post and people start arguing over that, I don't support that. There are ways of being competitive but still in good spirit.

“We compete as hard as we can. I want to smash the opposition, but when it's done, it's done. The game is finished. You shake hands.”

As World Champions, the Boks attract a fair bit of online traffic. They have a wide fan base but they also have detractors the world over.

That doesn't mean online abuse of Springboks exclusively comes from abroad.

Manie Libbok has found himself a popular target, but Kolisi insists the flyhalf doesn't need to be managed in a different way. When pressure moments arrive he does not have to shield the pivot.

“I don’t have to worry about that. Manie makes decisions. He kicks for poles. He’ll say ‘I’ve got it’.

“If he misses, he’ll come back and say the same.

“If he feels it isn’t working, then Faf [de Klerk] goes.

“Everybody thinks I makes these big decisions, but we have leaders in different things. I just have to worry about the ref.

“I have to respect what Manie says, or Faf. Unless we feel we should go for the corner because we have momentum, I leave that decision to them. I have no worries.”

Kolisi noted that apart from Libbok, De Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe and Damian Willemse also have the ability to raise the flags.

“We don’t want Manie to stress. He’s got so many things [to do], like controlling the game.

“I know Manie from the Sharks, so when he joined the Boks I said to him ‘do the same as you always do. I don’t care if you don’t have any caps, when you speak we all shut up.”