South Africa’s two national sevens captains needed little encouragement when the Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks came knocking for assistance with their #StrongerTogether for R32-12 campaign.
Siviwe Soyizwapi and Zintle Mpupha joined hands with the Boks in this hunger alleviation project in communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Soyizwapi, who took over the Springbok Sevens captaincy in 2019, and Mpupha, who has been wearing the Springbok Women’s Sevens armband since 2018, jumped at the opportunity to assist the Springboks, first in packing food parcels with Food Forward SA in Epping last week, and handing out food parcels with Gift of the Givers in Athlone on Thursday.
For Soyizwapi, the opportunity was more than just a value-driven desire to assist those in need, as it also gave him an outlet to channel some energy into a season cut short by the pandemic.
The Blitzbok speedster, who guided South Africa to a gold and silver medal in the first two tournaments of the 2019/20 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – in Dubai and Cape Town – missed out on action in Hamilton, Sydney, Los Angeles and Vancouver, due to injury.
And instead of travelling to Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris for the remainder of the World Series, “Shakes” found himself alongside the Springboks, assisting in the project.
“It is great to assist and the whole idea of giving back that the Springboks are doing now, lies at the core of what Siya Kolisi told South Africans after the World Cup,” said the two-time World Series winner.
“He said that since South Africa supported the Springboks at the World Cup in their time of need, the roles are now reversed and this time, the Springboks are supporting the South Africans who are in need. It is very easy to resonate with that and help where we can.”
Mpupha’s season was also turned upside down after captaining the Imbokodo in their historic first appearance at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens.
Unfortunately, the World Series Challenger Series, that was due to be played in Stellenbosch in March, and the African Cup were cancelled meaning no immediate action for the Springbok Women’s team.
“This initiative offers us something to channel our energy towards and knowing that we are assisting not only our World Cup winning Springboks, but also fellow citizens in need gives some relevance to the last couple of months,” said Mpupha, who usually excels at centre for the Imbokodo.
“We have seen tournaments cancelled, but this pandemic is much more than just missing out on a couple of rugby matches. This brought hardship our brothers and sisters and I am delighted to be able to assist in contributing.”
Soyizwapi also had a message to all matric learners, especially to those from Peakview Secondary School in Athlone, where the food parcel drop took place this week.
“You had your academic year turned upside down, but you can still get on top of it,” said the Blitzbok captain.
“Stay in the fight and make sure that you use every opportunity to do so. At the Blitzboks we have the belief that tough times are there to test our character and resilience, and that we need to respond accordingly. I can give you the same advice.”