The captain of the world champion Springboks talks about his new life in France, within the Ile-de-France club.
No time to breathe. After the crazy celebrations in South Africa after the world double achieved on October 28, Siya Kolisi arrived in France on Monday, to discover his new club Racing 92. This Thursday, the third row and captain of the Springboks – who eliminated the XV of France in the quarter-finals – was officially presented at the headquarters of the Ile-de-France club at Plessis-Robinson. Relaxed, smiling, affable, the 32-year-old – only rugby player to have more than a million followers on Instagram – confided, at a press conference, surrounded by his president Laurent Travers and his manager Stuart Lancaster, his impatience to play his first match under his new colors. He will be present on November 26 at Paris La Défense Arena for the match against Stade Rochelais. It remains to be seen whether he will play or not.
Celebrations in South Africa
“It was incredible! Even crazier than after the 2019 title. This time, people expected us to win and they were behind us. We, the players, made all these sacrifices for the people back home. To bring them the trophy back.”
The reception in France that the Boks beat in the quarter-finals
“You make friends throughout your career. Of course, against France, we wanted to win. I know how much France invested in trying to be world champion. I have known Gaël (Fickou) for a long time, we have played against each other a lot of times. I know what it meant for France… At the end of the match, Cameron (Woki) wished us good luck for the future. I had the same injury as Romain Ntamack, I spoke about it with him. I’ve been playing against Jonathan (Danty) since I was 18. Once, during an impact, he split his head open and I had a cut in my mouth. We have always managed to communicate, even though I don’t speak French and he doesn’t speak English.”
His arrival at Racing 92
“I feel very honored and very proud to be here, and to be part of the Racing Family. Many people have asked me: but why France? Why Racing, why not another club? I had initial contacts with this club but it didn’t happen. And the second time, Dan Carter (former All Blalks fly-half, champion with Racing in 2016, Editor’s note) convinced me to come even though I could also have gone to Japan. My first contacts with the players and the staff went very well. When we talk about “Racing Family,” it’s something you can really feel. When I met Jacky Lorenzetti (club owner), he told me that he wanted to recruit the player that I am but also the man. We want to create a dynamic around this club, rely on the entire community (in Île-de-France) to recruit widely.
How he feels physically
“I can’t wait to play my first match. I will be present at the Arena on November 26 for the match against La Rochelle. We’ll see if it will be my first match… I feel good, I already participated in training on Tuesday with my new teammates. I was like a kid going to school on the first day. I still need to learn French to communicate better with people. I already speak four languages, but I want to show respect to the people at the club by speaking in French. I’m going to take cles to achieve this. When I leave, I want to leave a part of myself.”
His view of the Top 14
“The Top 14 is known to be the toughest competition in the world. It’s a very physical championship. And even in the lower divisions, there are big names in rugby. I know that what awaits me is going to be very hard. Totally different from what I have ever known. I have a friend who plays Pro D2 and he told me how hard it was.
For me, the Top 14 is more important. I saw it in the joy of the players when they win this competition
His new environment
“Meeting players from all over the world is the best thing. I have known Gaël (Fickou) and Cameron (Woki) for a very long time. It’s funny knowing that now I’ll see them every day. There’s also Joshua (Tuisova), it’s crazy, he’s so strong and so shy at the same time! I also spoke with the coach (the Englishman Stuart Lancaster), we spoke in his office and he asked me how I felt after being crowned world champion, what my feelings were. He gave me advice and I realized how lucky I was to come here. (…) Otherwise, I haven’t yet managed to find Camille Chat’s neck! He doesn’t have a separation between the head and shoulders… He could be sponsored by Head & Shoulders! (Laughs)
Top 14 or Champions Cup?
“It’s different. The Champions Cup is surely the best competition in the world. It’s lucky to have Stuart (Lancaster) who has already won it (with Leinster). But, for me, the Top 14 is more important. I saw it in the joy of the players when they win this competition. I even saw players (notably Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack) surfing with the Brennus shield!”
His new life
“It’s going to be different for me. I will be able to walk down the street without anyone recognizing me. I will be able to drop my children off at school and fully enjoy my role as a father. This is, in the end, the most important thing for me.”