Hero photograph
Photo by Mark Ealey

Rugby (re)union in South Africa

Kathryn Eagle —

Old Boys' Njabulo Xaba and Josh Navidi caught up in South Africa recently, fourteen years following their time together in the International Rugby Programme (IRP) at St Bede's.

Since 2008, when Josh Navidi played No. 8 in the 1st XV and Njabulo Xaba played in the midfield for our 3rd XV, Josh has gone on to obtain 31 caps (and counting) for Wales and play for the British and Irish Lions on the tour to South Africa last year. 

The duo caught up in the Welsh team's hotel in Pretoria before the first test match versus the Springboks on 2 July, where South Africa edged Wales in a 32-29 thriller. They have kept in touch over the years and last year tried to meet up during the Lions tour but Covid-19 ruled that out.   

Njabulo is living in Johannesburg and is still playing for Soweto RFC. He works in retail-related IT for an FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) company and graduated this past Friday with a BComm from the University of South Africa in Pretoria. 

Njabulo made the following speech on his departure from the IRP and St Bede's in 2008:

“The International Rugby Programme was the best experience I have ever had. If I had the opportunity, I would do it all over again. I went to St. Bede’s having had a disadvantaged background beyond most people’s imagination, but I was never made to feel out of place during my stay in New Zealand. I learned a huge amount about rugby, life skills and different cultures. I made friends with many people from New Zealand and other countries. The St. Bede’s staff and fellow students were always friendly and welcoming. The home-stay hosts were brilliant and to this day, I still cannot believe that I shared the same roof as the All Black great Billy Bush. Taking part in sessions delivered by elite-level coaches improved my skills and decision-making. My leadership skills were also developed. It was a great honour for me to be one of the leaders of the 2008 IRP group. Being the first foreign player to lead the school haka (Ko Hato Peti) in a match against a touring team was one of my greatest memories".

It's wonderful to see these two old boys meeting up!