I go on a silly little self-indulgent ego trip every Sunday when I post on Twitter what I regard as my sporting highlight of the weekend.
It’s an excuse to drift off for a few minutes and reflect on what I saw or heard of the day before and then try to pick out what I regarded as the “nicest” moment. Nice is totally subjective, of course, and I try to find that thing, for me, that’s a bit special, and it doesn’t necessary have anything to do with success on the field.
Sometimes, it appears, I strike the right note and quite a few people agree with me, via their like and retweet buttons. At other times they totally ignore me – not that there are that many that see what I have to say in the first place. But, as I said, I’m doing it for myself and it is really of no importance at all.
Sometimes there is more than just one nice thing happening on the same weekend so, because I make the rules, I allow myself to have two highlights. Like the time I saw Bryce Parsons of King Edward VII School smash a glorious hundred off 74 balls and, on the same day, I got to watch the fantastic Oranje Meisieskool hockey team in action at the St Mary’s Festival.
This past weekend was one of those. Jeppe High School for Boys played King Edward in the second leg of their double-header fixture and, after being well-beaten in the first encounter no-one gave them a chance. I never watched the game. I was there for the Jeppe hockey team’s 6-0 win, but then I wimped out in the cold and left early to meet up with the people I was going to the rugby Test with.
Jeppe won the game 25-7 and, by all accounts, they were never really troubled. A turnaround like that will always make my highlights list.
Then, as I said. I went to Emirates Airline Park for the game against Australia. I’ve seen some criticism, mainly of the empty seats, but I thought it was great occasion. The tributes to Johnny Clegg and James Small were tastefully understated, and using James’ kids as flagbearers for the Springboks was touching.
For me there were two really nice things about the game itself. Firstly Siya Kolisi’s servant leadership. He is injured at the moment, but he was out there before the warmup, putting out the cones and the training bags and he was busy retrieving and passing balls during the drills. And in the game, he put on the water boy’s bib and carried the bottles and the kicking tee on and off the field. He was miked up, of course, and was passing on messages from the coaching booth too, which is what all the water boys do these days.
I was at the Craven Week in Paarl two years ago, on the day when the Western Province senior team made an appearance at the field. They are contracted to do that, I guess, and most of the players looked rather bored, transfixed on their mobile phones with the ubiquitous bottle of water in the other hand.
Not Siya. He disappeared and popped up among the Eastern Province players, singing the Xhosa songs he had learned growing up playing school and club rugby in Port Elizabeth, with them. They were soon joined by the Border boys, who speak the same language, and sing the same songs.
There are two chapters straight out of any textbook on world-class leadership right there. Someone’s going to write a business school case study on leadership lessons from Siya Kolisi one day, if it hasn’t been done already.
And then there was Schalk Brits. The incident I mentioned was never shown on TV, I realised, when I watched the game again on Sunday. In the second half, Wallaby replacement hooker Jordan Uelese banged his head on Schalk’s hip while tackling him and went down, lights out. The ref stopped play and he was eventually taken off, but not before Brits had gone across to him, a good 25 metres away. He had a word, hugged him and tousled his hair. Great sportsmanship from one of the few rugby pros who always seems to play with a smile on his face.
That’s nice, and definitely one of my (three) sporting highlights of the weekend.