Three FNB Ikey Tigers were in action at the Rugby World Cup in England. Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende (Pictured against FNB UFS Shimlas in 2014).
Siya “The Bear” Kolisi
Siya Kolisi’s fairy-tale rise up the ladder of rugby stardom started in Zwide Township, Port Elizabeth, playing for the African Bombers RFC under- 9 team. He started out as a prop and earned the nickname “Shrek”, but now he is known as “The Bear”.
Kolisi had morphed from a chucky prop to a skinny wing to a powerful ball-carrying loose forward who played well enough to be selected for the Eastern Province under 12B team. This followed with Siya being offered a full scholarship to Grey Junior School and High Schools, the scholarship funded by ex UCT lock in the early sixties, and a UCTRFC luminary, Vincent Mai. Siya initially struggled academically as he grappled with elementary English. Teammate (and later fellow Ikey), Nick Holton, tutored him and helped him with his homework. Kolisi and other Xhosa players on the team sang Xhosa rugby songs in the change rooms and inspired the Grey under 13A team to a number of upset wins. He later captained the Grey under 16A team, helped Eastern Province win the Grant Khomo week, followed by two years of SA Schools colours.
By the time he left Grey, he had a prefects tie, a university exemption and was on his way to The Western Province Rugby Institute. Kolisi lifted the under 19 Currie Cup with Western Province and was selected for the Baby Boks. In 2011 he bypassed the Varsity Cup (disappointingly for us Ikey supporters) and went straight into the Vodacom Cup and had his debut run on for the Stormers later that same year in their semi-final match against the Crusaders. In 2013 he got his call-up to the full Springbok squad. As a 24 year old Siya still has a long way to go in his career and we are sure to see even greater things from him.
He has never forgotten his roots and still has strong ties with African Bombers and rugby in Zwide Township. He is also seen regularly on the side of the field at The Green Mile supporting The Ikeys during Varsity Cup.
For many people who were around in the 70’s the Etzebeth family name was well known in rugby circles with Eben’s uncles, Cliffie and Skattie both tough and accomplished players. Cliffie played prop and lock for WP, and with Skattie, also achieved South African wrestling colours. Cliffie is not someone to be trifled with!
In his final year of junior school Eben won the Victor Ludorum for his sprinting and jumping achievements. At High School (Tygerberg High) he struggled to make the A rugby teams roving between centre, wing and fullback for the B side. The thought of playing in the 3rd or 4th team at under 19 level did not sit well with Eben. Towards the end of Grade 10 he decided to do something about it and joined his brother at a local gym. He rapidly developed from a skinny lad to a very powerful young fellow. On returning to school after the holidays the first team coach wisely selected him to play lock in the trials, although Eben still wanted to play wing. Hid physique and strength decided it for him in the end and soon he was playing first team lock and by the start of Matric he weighed 122 KG’s. He had put on 40KG of bulk and 15cm in height in two years. In 2009 he was chosen to represent Western Province at the Under-18 Craven Week tournament. In 2010 he was part of WP Rugby Institute intake that included Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni and Nizaam Carr. Eben was still looking for an opportunity to boost his rugby career by playing Varsity Cup Rugby. Maties were not interested but UCT came calling and Etzebeth jumped at the chance. He calls it the best decision of his life as it catapulted him into the big time and he was part of the UCT Ikey Tigers side which won the Varsity Cup in 2011. The 2011 Varsity Cup success and Eben’s significant contribution to that squad under John Dobson’s inspired coaching was followed by representing the Baby Boks in the same year, and WP under 21. The rest including the run to the Super Rugby semis and a Springbok debut at the tender age of 20 is now recent rugby history.
Damian (Doogz) de Allende
You do not normally associate Milnerton, an Atlantic seaside suburb of this city with significant rugby prowess. However they recently produced a rugby Springbok in Damian de Allende who attended both Milnerton Junior and High Schools.
It’s hard to believe De Allende wasn’t selected for the Western Province U18 Craven Week team, but playing for Milnerton High, an unfashionable Cape Town rugby school, counted against him. He only started playing rugby in Grade 8 – football had been his sport of choice at Milnerton Primary – when his friends convinced him to give it a go. De Allende was selected for the 1st XV at the end of his Grade 10 year and went on to play 50 matches for them, mostly at outside centre. His most memorable moments include his first hat-trick for the 1st XV, against Tygerberg in 2008, and Milnerton’s Burger Trophy win (for medium schools) in 2009.
When he was in his matric year, De Allende was approached by coach Hein Kriek, who persuaded him to attend Western Province U19 trials. It went well, and he was soon wearing the blue and white hoops. Alan Zondagh then offered him a place at the Rugby Performance Centre (RPC) in Riebeek West. He was training at Hamiltons grounds, who selected RPC players for their U20 teams, where that he was spotted by then UCT coach Kevin Foote, who offered him the chance to play Varsity Cup rugby in 2012. He would play six matches for the Ikeys, all on the wing.
Damian de Allende was also an excellent high-school cricketer, earning selection for Western Province U18. But when he was picked for the Province U19 rugby team, in his matric year, he had to decide which sport to pursue after school.
He made his debut for the Western Province first team during the 2012 Vodacom Cup against Pampas. In August 2013 he was called up to the WP Currie Cup and Stormers sides.
Damien was selected for the Springbok squad in 2014 and made his test debut against the Argentinians in Pretoria. Ironically, Damien, who is of Spanish descent, first played test rugby against the Spanish speaking Los Pumas.
His rugby career blossomed very quickly, and it is no exaggeration to say that Damien is respected by world class centres like Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, and highly respected coach, Robbie Deans, who recently said of Damien, “Damien has been playing remarkable rugby the whole year and keeps doing the right things. He can add a new dimension to the Boks.” High praise from a man of few words, Robbie Deans.
UCTRFC and the Ikey Tigers are justifiably proud of their Springbok stars of recent years. The excellent coaching and mentoring these young players received from their coaches and backers, is indicative of the sound structures in place at UCTRFC and the Ikey Foundation.