By: Natasha Archary
In his soon-to-be-released autobiography Rise Springbok captain Siya Kolisi details how his drinking habits almost cost him his family.
Kolisi who was terrified after an injury in Saturday’s victory against the All Blacks left him motionless, shares how his wife Rachel had almost left him.
Rachel who is Kolisi’s biggest supporter shared how she felt helpless watching him go down like that.
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But their relationship had reached a breaking point after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“A few weeks after the World Cup had ended and we were back home, I was lying on the grass on a Sunday morning, as hungover as it’s possible to imagine. My eyes were bloodshot and I stank of alcohol. Rachel had had enough. If it had been an isolated incident that would have been one thing, but it wasn’t,” Kolisi in an excerpt from his autobiography which was published by the Sunday Times.
“We’re going to church,” Rachel had told him.
She always went to church on Sunday. ‘See you later,’ I grunted. ‘We,’ she said. ‘We’re going to church. That means you too.’
It was this statement that became the turning point in his life and Kolisi realised that if he didn’t stop this behaviour, he was going to lose his family.
His substance abuse began at an early age when he was 8 or 9-years old by sniffing petrol.
“It was at a time when I was starting to hang out with some kids a bit older than me and doing what they were doing: drinking, smoking weed, sniffing petrol. We’d squeeze five rands’ worth out of the pump, shake it up in a plastic bottle and inhale the fumes. I was only eight or nine, thinking I was tough and just wanting to fit in. If I’d gone much further down that path, I could have ended up a tsotsi, a young criminal, and from there you only have two real options: jail or death. Or both.”
Siya Kolisi became the first black captain of the Springboks in 2018 and led the Boks to victory in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.