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Springboks captain Siya Kolisi makes highly-anticipated Racing 92 debut

By Finn Morton
Racing 92's South-African back row Siya Kolisi looks on during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Racing 92 and La Rochelle at the Paris La Defense Arena in Nanterre, north-west of Paris on November 26, 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP via Getty Images)

There might not be a bigger name in rugby right now than Siya Kolisi. After leading the Springboks to another Rugby World Cup crown, the flanker fits the bill as a genuine rockstar of the sport.

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Thousands of fans watched on in awe on Sunday evening as Kolisi made his highly-anticipated debut for Racing 92 at Paris La Defence Arena against French juggernauts La Rochelle.

Kolisi, 32, started in the backrow alongside Frenchmen Wenceslas Lauret and Jordan Joseph as the Parisian club ran away with a statement 32-10 win over the reigning European champions.

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It was a historic night for so many reasons.

With the World Cup coming to a thrilling end last month as the Boks defeated the All Blacks, the focus of the rugby world quickly shifted to the ongoing European seasons.

Days turned into weeks as anticipation continued to build for Kolisi’s first appearance in the iconic sky blue and white jersey of Racing 92. Well, rugby fans, wait no more.

Running out in a starting side alongside French internationals Cameron Woki and Gael Fickou, as well as England international Henry Arundell, all fans wanted to see Kolisi.

The match got off to a roaring start with Argentinian Juan Imhoff opening the scoring after just five minutes. While La Rochelle hit back with a penalty shortly after, it was all one-way traffic from there.

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Racing scored 10 unanswered points to round out the half, and to make things worse for Ronan O’Gara’s side, wing Teddy Thomas was sent off with just under 15 minutes to play. Hooker Pierre Bourgarit was also shown a yellow card shortly after.

La Rochelle cut down the lead just after the break with a try to Yoan Tanga Mangene, but it was far from a sign of things to come.

The red card was the major talking point as Racing shot up to first place on the Top 14 standings with an emphatic bonus-point win.

As for Kolisi, the Springboks captain played more than 50 minutes before making way for Max Baudonne. The flanker ran the ball for 21 metres and made five tackles as well.

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Eabn 7 hours ago
Open-minded Schmidt takes hands-on approach to Australia challenge

Who cares - boring is good when it comes to Media - they don’t bug you as much. While the focus is on the resurrection of the Wallabies, don’t forget the grass roots - Any opportunity you have to visit, train or promote Rugby down here in Melbourne / Regional is pretty much imperative given the current situation with the Rebels. I’m talking about us grass roots clubs and more so, clubs in the West of Melbourne who are being absolutely smashed by Rugby League and who have been contributing directly to the game down here long before the Rebels emerged and no doubt will do so well after they may be gone. All I have heard is all about the elite level, not the grass roots level so while the talk is about “ The Wallabies” and “Super Rugby Pacific” get back to the roots of Union and include us in your plans. So Phil Waugh and those leaders within RugbyAustralia, it’s on you to ensure the bottom feeders, so to speak, are included in all the talk and the funding if you want Union to regain ground and more respect within the Union and also the broader sporting fraternity. Given you have been in Melbourne a number off times over the last month, extending the courtesy of having a meet and greet with Victorian grass root clubs eluded you for some reason. Do we count or matter in RA’s and yours bigger picture?? Ean Drummond - Club Founder/President - Wyndham City Rhinos RUFC Inc. Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.

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