Discover the Springbok’s remarkable story
Who is Makazole Mapimpi: Ten things you should know about the South Africa wing
Makazole Mapimpi may have arrived on the world stage relatively late in his career but he was quick to make an impact with 14 tries in his first 14 Tests for South Africa.
Ten things you should know about Makazole Mapimpi
1. Makazole Mapimpi was born on 30 July 1990 in Tsholomnqa, a village in the Mdantsane District of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
He attended Jim Mvabasa Senior Secondary School in King William’s Town, walking 20km a day, there and back.
2. Mapimpi was a comparative latecomer to international rugby. He was 27 when he made his Test debut, against Wales in Washington DC in 2018.
The wing marked the occasion with a try in a 22-20 defeat as the Springboks gave 13 players their first caps.
3. Mapimpi’s 66th-minute score against England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama made him the first South African to get a try in rugby’s biggest game.
In 1995, South Africa beat New Zealand 15-12, after extra-time, with all points kicked by Joel Stransky and in 2007 Percy Montgomery and Frans Steyn kicked all the points in a 15-6 win over England.
4. Rugby World Cup glory is a long way from playing for the bankrupt Border Bulldogs after being drafted in as an amateur in 2014, as Mapimpi was.
After that initiation the wing played for Southern Kings, Free State Cheetahs and the Sharks before his International debut.
5. At the World Cup, head coach Rassie Erasmus had the Springbok jerseys made with photographs of the players’ families in the numbers on the back. Mapimpi had photos of himself. Erasmus was in tears retelling the story in the documentary Chasing the Sun.
“He didn’t have anyone else, you know his brother died, his mother died, he doesn’t have a photo,” said Erasmus. “He doesn’t play for the one thing, he just has a massive heart. Massive heart.”
6. Mapimpi’s mother, Eunice, died in a car accident, his sister, Zukiswa, a nurse, died of a brain illness and his brother, Zolani, died having lost a leg after being electrocuted.
At the World Cup in 2019, Mapimpi said of his mother and sister: “Both were opposed to me playing rugby because they felt I wouldn’t gain anything from it, so they would have insisted that I get an education or a job. Obviously, I’m not saying it’s a good thing they’re not here. But their absence has toughened me up to be here.”
7. Mapimpi arrived in Japan for the World Cup as a relative international novice with just eight caps but scored six tries in six games.
He ended the tournament as the joint second highest try-scorer behind Wales’ Josh Adams (seven).
8. Mapimpi came from a desperately poor background and in 2020 donated 140 food hampers to Domino’s Disaster Relief, which distributes meals and aid to those suffering poverty and hardship in the Durban area.
9. In a World Cup warm-up match in 2019, Mapimpi scored a try and then revealed a wristband that read ‘Nene RIP’. That was dedicated to Uyinene Mrwetyana, who had been raped and murdered in Cape Town.
10. In 2020, Mapimpi launched his #Mapimpi67 campaign to raise awareness of gender-based violence.
He said: “Gender-based violence is something I’ve experienced first-hand in my community. It’s something that also affected me deeply because when I was growing up there was no senior male role model in my family.”
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