Jon Cardinelli charts the Springbok’s route to the top

Who is Aphelele Fassi: Ten things you should know about the South Africa back

Like Cheslin Kolbe and Rosko Specman, Aphelele Fassi has the ability to turn defence into attack. That’s why he has South Africa fans so excited.

Find out more about his career here.

Ten things you should know about Aphelele Fassi

1. Aphelele Fassi was born on 23 January 1998 in King William’s Town.

His full name is Aphelele Onke Okuhle, which can be translated to mean ‘all is complete and beautiful’.

2. In recent times, Fassi’s rousing attacking performances have earned him the nickname of ‘The Weekend Special’.

3. Fassi played fly-half, centre and full-back for Dale College – a famous rugby school in the Eastern Cape. He represented Border at the U16 and U18 national tournaments.

4. Fassi was a star batsman and a handy medium-fast bowler at junior level. He represented Border at age-group level and scored three hundreds in his final year at school.

5. The Sharks moved quickly to secure the teenager’s signature, and it wasn’t long before Fassi got his first taste of professional rugby in 2018.

The tall, powerfully built yet deceptively quick full-back scored a try on his Currie Cup debut for the Durban-based side.

6. Fassi was backed to start against Western Province in the 2018 Currie Cup final. Despite many pre-match predictions, the Sharks went on to win the decider at Newlands as well as the domestic title.

Fassi was later nominated for the SA Rugby Young Player of the Year award.

7. Fassi continued to turn heads after making his Super Rugby debut in 2019.

The Sharks enjoyed a dream start to the 2020 season too, leading the 15-team table after seven matches – before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the tournament to a halt. Fassi’s contributions on attack certainly amplified the team’s potency during that period.

8. Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber had planned to give Fassi a starting opportunity at some point during the 2020 Test season.

The pandemic put paid to those plans, but he did get selected to make his Test debut against Georgia in the build-up to South Africa’s series against the British & Irish Lions 2021. And he scored a try with his first touch in Test rugby!

9. Shortly after the lockdown was lifted in September 2020, Fassi sustained a serious shoulder injury in training and was forced to undergo surgery. He was sidelined for three months before rejoining the Sharks squad for their Currie Cup campaign.

10. Fassi managed to regain his edge in the latter stages of the Currie Cup and in the subsequent Rainbow Cup tournament.

Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.