Aphiwe Dyantyi makes a run in the 2017 Varsity Cup semi-final against the University of Stellenbosch at the Danie Craven Stadium. Photo: Liam Hamer Nel
Former University of Johannesburg star, Aphiwe Dyantyi, hopes his meteoric rise from varsity ‘koshuis’ rugby to Springbok rugby will provide inspiration for young rugby players coming through the ranks to follow in his footsteps.
The 24-year-old wing shot to prominence this year with a series of stunning performances for the Springboks, culminating in him being named the Breakthrough Player of the Year at the World Rugby Awards gala in Monaco on Sunday, 25 November. Remarkably, just a few years ago, he practically gave up rugby altogether.
After making his mark with UJ in the Varsity Cup last year, Dyantyi’s career has blossomed. He made his international debut this year and has scored six tries in 13 tests. The talented player has, however, kept his feet firmly on the ground, knowing that he needs to be an example to others.
“I just want to keep on challenging myself to keep on improving and hopefully make a difference for our country,” he said following the award announcement at the weekend. “But equally, I want to make an impact on someone else’s life, someone who will see my story as an inspiration to do something great out there. That is my ultimate goal.”
Dyantyi has also not forgotten those who helped him. “I’ve been truly blessed in so many ways with the people around me who have helped me in the last few years – it’s really amazing,” he said. “Being part of the Springboks, representing the country – it doesn’t get any better. I’m very honoured as I never imagined I would ever be the one sitting here receiving an award such as this.”
He said he had always watched other players receiving awards and never thought he would be in line for such an accolade. “Even now, it’s still difficult to believe and I was honoured just to be a nominee for the award.”
Dyantyi said he saw some of the challenges during his career as something he needed to embrace. “I see it as a journey for any young player. Sport allows you the chance to express yourself. My aim when I go out onto the field is to enjoy myself and make sure I try to play with a smile on my face.”
Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.
For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister newspaper websites
Get It Joburg West Magazine