It’s been quite a year for Muzi Manyike. As head boy of Jeppe, 1st team rugby captain and a player in a variety of representative teams, he has hardly touched ground.
We caught up with him between prelim exams and he admitted that it has been exhausting, and it’s not over yet. “Since I got back from the SA Schools series I have been playing catch up with my school work and I’m almost there,” he said, “I think the exams are going quite well so far, but I have to report for training with the Golden Lions under-19s next week, and after that there’s the Youth Olympics in Argentina with the SA under-18 sevens team, so there is still a lot of rugby to go.”
The year started off with sevens, for the SA team at the Africa Championships, then it was into the Jeppe season, followed by the Craven Week and the SA sevens team to the African Youth Games and, a week later, the SA Schools series.
Looking back at all of that, the second victory over KES was without a doubt the highlight of the year for him. “It was great to win, of course, but the atmosphere that day, the way that the school and the community united behind us was very special,” he said. “For those of us in matric it was the perfect send off and it’s a day that I will never forget,” he said.
Another rugby highlight was captaining the South African Schools team. “It was a chance to test my leadership at international level and I think I did quite well,” he said. “The SA Schools experience was very intense. We were made to eat, sleep and breathe rugby and treated like full-on rugby professionals.”
Then there was his year as head boy, after five years at Jeppe. “It’s been incredibly busy, but I have loved every minute of it,” he said. “I was the first boy from Randfontein to come to Jeppe and I decided in grade 8 to make the most of the journey. The one thing that I would never be faulted on would be my attitude, I decided.”
It’s been a long year, he said, and he singled out his friend, Stefan Van Zyl, as the most important factor in his getting through it. “He was always behind me. He always encouraged me, and was there with transport, accommodation and all sorts of support when I needed it. I couldn’t have down it without him.”
When Muzi was in grade eight he decided that, no matter what, he wasn’t going to change as he got older. So the blazer he wears to school every day bears none of the many honours he has been awarded through the years. “I actually swore that I was going to wear the same blazer all five years, but the original one became too small,” he said.
Going forward, he has been contracted by the Golden Lions and has a bursary to go to Wits next year – he has opted for 15 man rugby above sevens – but there is the matter of matric final exams before then, he fully realises.
And with that, he was off to Randfontein for a quick visit to his parents – he hasn’t been home for any of the school holidays this year – before his busy year continues.