Quick tap with Nama Xaba

PUBLISHED: March 27, 2024

Qualified land surveyor and DHL Stormer Nama Xaba spoke to us about walking through a city built on water, the lady that started his rugby journey and the best loose forwards he has ever played with.

You have a degree in Land Surveying, do you plan to study further?

I definitely plan to study further, this is an Engineering degree that I got but I am more interested now in finance and the business side of things. The plan is to do a Masters in Finance or Business.

You moved to Cape Town straight after school, what was the main motivation for that decision?

I moved to Cape Town to join the Western Province Rugby Institute in my gap year. The main motivation was although I had an option of staying in KZN and going to the Hollywoodbets Sharks, I really wanted to give it a go here. When I came I hadn’t played SA Schools and there were four SA Schools loose forwards. I just thought that if I’m really going to make it as a professional rugby player I have got to test myself against the best. Cape Town or the Western Cape seemed like the perfect environment if I failed, to just slot into the Varsity Cup system. For me that was a no-brainer and thankfully things worked out and I ended up signing on to be at DHL Western Province.

What is your earliest rugby memory?

My earliest rugby memory would be my first game when I was six years old in Vryheid, playing against Pongola. I was a big kid, but I had no reference for the rules, they just picked me because I was big. Our Under-7 coach was Mrs Grobler, she was a very good person who did so much for me in my life. She stood under the poles and when I got passed the ball she just told me ‘run to me, whatever you do don’t get stopped, just run to me’. So I literally did that, ran over a few defenders and then got to her and asked ‘now what?’. She told me to put the ball down so I did and all of a sudden my teammates were jumping on me and happy for me. I didn’t realise I had scored my first try.

What are your favourite places you have travelled to with the DHL Stormers squad?

There are a lot of cool places that we have travelled to. I just missed out on the Super Rugby tours with Covid hitting two weeks before I was supposed to go on my first one. But the Vodacom URC has been a revelation. Italy is a beautiful place, I always enjoy it when we go play there. Venice was a highlight, just walking through the streets of a city built on water is something ridiculous, it is even tough to fathom now thinking about it. When we go to these places Dobbo always makes sure that we know the history around it, so that is quite cool. But my best place is definitely Cardiff, it is so lively and all the boys enjoy going there. It seems like a bigger version of Stellenbosch in terms of the student life.

Do you have an idea of what you would like to do after rugby?

It is quite a daunting question, but I’m a guy who likes to be prepared. The Engineering degree was something that I thought I wanted to do, but now I see that it is probably not for me. I’d like to transition to business and finance or entrepreneurship. When I was injured for 11 months I set up a few side hustles that are still running and building steadily, so I’d like to continue with that.

If you could pick two other players to play with you in your all-time loose trio of those you have played with, who would they be and why?

It is a tough one because the first person who comes to mind is Siya Kolisi, but we play in the same position. Coming here as a youngster he was someone I looked up to and he has obviously gone on to do amazing things, he is beyond rugby. Then there is the World Player of the Year 2019 Pieter-Steph du Toit. I did rehab with him when he had his leg injury after that World Cup. It was during lockdown so we actually spent a lot of time together. The work ethic of the man is impressive, every day I was just hoping I could catch him when we were running. I remember one moment playing with him, we were playing the Hollywoodbets Sharks and he was sprinting and said ‘come Nama’ so I carried on running and we ended up making a cover tackle to save a try. I’d also mention Juarno Augustus, he did something amazing in our U19 year. We were down against the Vodacom Bulls and needed one bonus point to get into a home semifinal. He singlehandedly scored four tries in 10 minutes. But more lately I would have to say Evan Roos, I don’t think I need to say much more, he is an amazing player.