Grant Shub chats to promising UCT first team player and new Sevens star…
MPHO MBIYOZO is one chilled-out dude. He arrives in his sweat pants, a hoodie and baseball cap; everything about him screams rapper. And, looking at his initials, one could be forgiven for thinking he’s Cape Town’s version of Eminem.
But get rid of the rapper-like gear and Mbiyozo transforms into the green and gold of the Bok Sevens team. When he takes to the field for a fitness session, one can tell this guy is serious about his rugby career as he leaves his carefree persona for the sidelines. “I am fairly laid-back… but I set myself goals and like to achieve them.”
Mbiyozo, who was awarded a scholarship to attend UCT in 2002, has used
the UCT first XV team as a springboard to future success in his career.
“I basically came down here for the rugby,” admits the man who hails
from Natal. And at only 23, Mbiyozo has grabbed all the opportunities
that have arisen. He’s played for Western Province’s Vodacom Cup and
Currie Cup teams, he has been in the Stormers camp, and then last year
received a call from Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu, asking him to
represent South Africa in the international Sevens tournament. Not bad
for a guy who had an early love for soccer and only took up rugby at
the age of 14.
“I got a call from Paul [Treu] at the end of last year… I had never
played Sevens before. But after I was invited to the camp, everything
went well and was selected for the tournament in Dubai, which we won,”
he enthuses. However, Mbiyozo, who has impressed with the Sevens side,
scoring a few good tries, is not content with only playing the
shortened version of the game.
“It would obviously be nice to play Currie Cup and Super 14 rugby,
but at the moment I’m enjoying the Sevens,” says Mbiyozo, who
recognizes the depth of talented players in the Cape.
Paul Treu, a man with great rugby vision, clearly spotted a great deal
of talent in the man whose teammates call ‘hippie’ or ‘MP’. For now,
Mbiyozo is enjoying seeing the world through his Sevens commitments.
“It’s fantastic, I’m in a different country every week, meeting
different people, ” says the sojourner who collects a bottle of wine
from every country he visits. When answering a question on the level of
play in Sevens rugby, Mbiyozo replies: “The standard is very high, it’s
mentally very challenging. You have to be very strong for 14 minutes
and any mistakes you make leads to a try, [but] it’s a nice game to
So while club commitments for UCT have taken a back-seat in order
for Mbiyozo to chase his Sevens and Currie Cup dreams, the player still
remains circumspect and grounded. “At the moment I’m taking it as it
comes and enjoying what I’m doing … Sevens and Currie Cup rugby are a
priority, but if that doesn’t work out obviously I’ll play at club
level,” he says. Mbiyozo, who admits he will find it hard to leave the
Cape, may venture to another union if it means furthering his promising
career. “I want to play with and against the best, I want to play at
the top level, and if that opportunity comes somewhere else obviously
I’m going to take it.” His mates may call him ‘hippie’, but when it
comes to his rugby aspirations, he has his feet firmly planted on the
Courtesy of Varsity, The Official Student Newspaper of the University of Cape Town
Mpho was in action for Springboks Sevens team in the SA leg of the 7s
series played in George recently (7-9 December 2007) another former UCT
player and club legend Dallen Stanford was also playing. The former Ikeys center has become a
permanent feature in the US Eagles 7s team after moving to the States
some years back, the Eagles narrowly lost the Plate Final vs Kenya.