Cheslin Kolbe, right now, is the best rugby player in the world. He should also be the highest paid player in the world because he is an entertainer who fills stadiums. He has proved that bigger is not necessarily better.
Kolbe will be the star attraction on Saturday when a ‘sold out’ 10 000 supporters are allowed into Twickenham to watch French Top 14 giants Toulouse front another Top 14 powerhouse in La Rochelle in the final of the European Champions Cup.
Kolbe has played 75 matches for Toulouse and scored 169 points.
A year ago, at the end of the 2019 season, he won every major award in French rugby.
He was named Top 14 Player of the year and best Top 14 Player at the 2019 World Cup. He was also the recipient of the best try of the season.
The 2020 season was halted because of the Covid pandemic and in 2021 Kolbe has been as electric.
He was also a unanimous choice among the French rugby media for being the best foreign player in France’s Top 14 and is considered one of the greatest foreign signings in Toulouse and French club rugby’s history.
Kolbe, whose career at Western Province and the Stormers, was always characterised by criticism because of his size, has never had to contend with that kind of prejudice in France.
The Toulouse locals and French rugby media have only ever applauded his attacking brilliance, his versatility as a player who can slot in at fullback, flyhalf and his preferred wing position and has even played scrumhalf on occasion.
He is a giant in France.
Kolbe, since his arrival at Toulouse, has been all the rage, and it is in France where his consistent performances resulted in his Springboks selection.
Kolbe was one of the superstars of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and was nominated as one of the five players of the tournament. He lost out to fellow Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit for the main award.
His success at the World Cup has not dulled his appetite for tries or for creating tries in the Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup.
People want to watch Kolbe play and it seems ridiculous that he has only played 14 times for the Springboks.
In Europe, there isn’t a bigger name in rugby.
Kolbe and fellow Springbok flanker Rynardt Elstadt will line-up for Toulouse in Europe club rugby’s biggest occasion and Springboks Dillyn Leyds and Raymond Rhule will be part of the La Rochelle starting backs.
Kick off on Saturday is 17.45, live on SuperSport
In the meantime, check out the videos below as a teaser to what you can expect from Kolbe at Twickenham.
Also on www.keo.co.za