Lions speedster Aphiwe Dyantyi gave up rugby after school when he was told he was too small to play. However, he forced his way into the professional ranks after impressive performances in the Varsity Cup.
After representing Eastern Province at U13 level in 2007, Aphiwe Dyantyi was touted as an exciting talent at school level. However, during his time at Dale College, he was told he was too small to play for the 1st XV during his matric year. Having missed out on his rugby goals, he eventually gave up on the sport after school and decided to pursue other interests.
He enrolled at University of Johannesburg to study BCom Marketing and played soccer. However, he quickly found his way back to his first love.
“I was living on res at campus. Some of my friends from school asked me if I could play for the Koshuis team as they needed players. They played on a Wednesday, so I was happy to help them out. After a few games, I was asked to train with the Varsity Cup team and that’s when things started happening,” Dyantyi.
In 2014, he played for UJ’s Young Guns and sevens. In 2015, he played for the senior side and was one of the star performers during the Varsity Cup. This saw him called up to the Golden Lions U21s.
In 2016, he continued his good form for UJ, which saw him earn his first professional contract with the Lions. This season, he made his senior provincial debut for the union during the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and played his first Currie Cup match last weekend.
“It all happened so quickly… at one moment, I was just playing to help out a few friends and then more and more opportunities came my way. It just proves that if you have a passion, don’t let anyone allow you to believe you’re not good enough. If you have the talent and work ethic, you can achieve anything you set out for yourself, especially if you’re willing to work hard for it,” said Dyantyi.
“I appreciate UJ and the Lions for all the opportunities they have given me. I’ve learned so much over a short space of time. I have struggled with some injuries over the past few months, but I’m back to full fitness.
“The Varsity Cup has been an important stepping stone, especially in terms of exposure. I’ve also had time to study as a student athlete, recently graduating with a BCom Honours degree. Now I want to focus on my rugby and hopefully continue ticking the right boxes for the team and coaches.”
Dyantyi added that the Super Rugby team has inspired all players at the Lions.
“Every player at the Lions aspires to represent the team in Super Rugby. They’re doing very well and that positive influence extends to players in the wider squads and junior teams. This bodes well for the future of Lions rugby,” said Dyantyi.
“It’s also great learning from the senior players and coaches around you. We are all playing according to the same systems, so there’s always a player ready to make the step-up when needed.
“My family has also played a big role over the past few years. They have supported me a lot and watch my games whenever possible, especially my mom. It’s great having a good support system around you.”
Looking ahead, Dyantyi hopes to continue to his impressive rise at the Lions. Off the field, he’s also kept his business interests in mind too.
“I want to establish myself as a regular in the Currie Cup team this season. I want to do enough to earn my place in the team. Going into 2018, I also hope to do enough to earn a place in the Super Rugby squad,” said Dyantyi.
“With my BCom Marketing Honours degree in the bag, I feel comfortable knowing I have a second career prepared whenever I do retire from rugby. I’ve already done some freelance work for my brother’s company, so I have working experience under the belt. All three of my siblings are currently in the corporate sector, so I’ll head into that direction one day. But for now, rugby is my main focus.”
By Gareth Duncan