Wayde van Niekerk’s cousin set for Springbok rugby debut

South Africa legend Breyton Paulse reveals tight bond between Cheslin Kolbe and Olympic champion cousin

By Andrew Binner ·

Cheslin Kolbe is set to make his 15-a-side international rugby debut for South Africa this weekend.

Some would say his Springbok call-up is long overdue, and with such strong sporting DNA, maybe it was only a matter of time.

An Olympic bronze medal would represent the pinnacle of sporting achievement for most families.

But most families don’t count Olympic champ Wayde van Niekerk among their number.


While Kolbe was lighting up the rugby sevens field en-route to a third-place at Rio 2016, his cousin was busy re-writing the record books on the athletics track.

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“They’re very close and get together whenever Wayde comes to Cape Town,” South Africa rugby legend Breyton Paulse told the Olympic Channel.

“They are great supporters of each other which is great to see. Wayde came to watch South Africa in their recent Test against England and lots of the Boks team are very good mates with Wayde.”

Paulse, also a lightning-quick wing who amassed 64 caps for the Springboks, revealed that South Africa could have had another rugby star in Van Niekerk, had he not chosen to pursue athletics.

“Wayde and Cheslin actually played rugby in the same team at primary school but Wayde obviously will have had to specialise in athletics very early – what a sevens player he could have been!”

Pocket rocket Kolbe has been named on the bench for South Africa’s Rugby Championship match against Australia.

With both teams suffering losses in their last outings, this must-win match between arch rivals will likely be a ferocious battle.

Some are questioning whether diminutive Kolbe will cope with the physicality at this level, but similarly-sized Paulse was quick to dismiss this notion.

“There’s been a lot of speculation about his weight and his size which I feel is a lot of nonsense as the player brings an X factor to the party with his unpredictability. What he brings to the attack is second to none.

“I’m sure he’s super nervous but he must embrace this fantastic opportunity and block out the pressure. Just go out there and have fun doing what he does best in beating players.”

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