With the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand well underway, African Business Review thought there was no better time to put a former player-turned-successful-businessman in the spotlight (not to mention a previous winner).

 

Jakobus Johannes Wiese, better known as Kobus Wiese, was part of the famous South Africa team that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in Johannesburg in 1995.

 

The 47-year-old played in 18 tests for his country as a lock between 1993 and 1996, playing provincial rugby for the Golden Lions. Since retiring, he has launched a successful coffee franchise named Wiesenhof (for more information, read this month’s Wiesenhof feature) and also worked for TV channel M Net.

 

Success breeds success, as the saying goes, and there is no doubt that Wiese’s background in elite sport has helped him to carve out a career as an accomplished coffee connoisseur. “There is actually no difference between business and sport,” Wiese told me.

 

“The lessons and principles are the same - if you want to be the best and achieve you have to put in the time and be totally committed. You must have passion for what you do, whether it’s in life or business.”

 

Passion is certainly something Wiese has an abundance of - while running his coffee house franchise takes up a lot of his time, we caught a word with him just before he jetted off to New Zealand to watch this year’s tournament. Does the former winner think the Springboks could be the first side to retain the title?

 

“I think South Africa have as good a chance as anyone else,” he said.

 

“Having played in a World Cup in my own country, I know first hand the difference having a home crowd can make. That kind of support is very powerful and means New Zealand have the nod when it comes to being favourites.

 

“But then South Africa are the reigning champions and have an experienced squad. There’s no doubt they will be equally as hungry to defend the title because its never been done before.

 

“Then there is England, they were winners in 2003 and reached the final last time round so you can’t underestimate them. They have been quietly going about their business.

 

“France are always an unpredictable nation when it comes to sport - but they have shown before in big tournaments that they can beat anybody. It’s a tough one to call.”

 

South Africa’s win 16 years ago was so iconic that it was recreated by director Clint Eastwood in 2009, starring Matt Damon as influential captain Francois Pienaar and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.

 

‘Invictus’ tells the story of how the team’s unlikely run in the tournament helped to reunite a nation still reeling from apartheid.

 

The lesson learned from his triumph is simple – “The World Cup is simply who wants it the most on the day” says Wiese. Only time will tell if the Springboks will be victorious for a record third time.



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