On Tuesday morning, 06 December 2022, Chief Executive Officer of the Blue Bulls Company, Edgar Rathbone addressed a media conference at Loftus Versfeld one day after it was announced the Sbu Nkosi had been located, with Rathbone spending time with the player. In his address to the media, Rathbone detailed some of the relevant information to ensure that members of the public, media and the international community had all the facts presented to them, sharing details that would help society understand the situation at hand but also empower others that may be in similar situations.
The full statement by Rathbone reads as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the media here, and those joining us online,
To everyone watching or listening to this across South Africa and the rest of the international community that has shown tremendous interest and support in this case,
Thank you for honouring this press conference this morning, To those of you who are first-time visitors, welcome to Loftus.
It was 22 days ago, now, that we began to live in a world where our reality was something we never thought nor could ever anticipate being our reality. What started as a simple non-appearance for training on Monday 14 November, quickly became a serious case of a missing player. Four days later, on the 17th of November, having failed to reach Sbu directly through his known channels and numerous visits to his known address here in Pretoria, we mandated our senior men’s manager to rope in the police.
We encountered a few challenges in this regard because we are not immediate family but still we insisted in continuing our search for Sbu because we are a family and frankly consider all those who form part of this Vodacom Bulls company, family.
Whilst everyone in the company who had contact with Sbu tried to reach him, whether be it via text or phone calls [without success] we also reached out to our commercial partners to help us broaden the search, as we grew in worry. We know the realities of our beautiful country and that elevated our concerns for the well-being of Sbu.
We were confident that we could locate Sbu without causing public panic but this did not pan out that way, with the story breaking through the media over the weekend. That meant we needed to fast-track how we deploy the resources we have, but still be strategic enough to give us the best chance at finding Sbu.
Perhaps our search for Sbu picked up defining momentum when SSG called, offering their tactical support, which offers state-of-the-art intelligence services, that led us to 1. Verifying the authenticity of some of the tips we were receiving, 2. whilst also helping us identify new possible leads
On Monday 05 December 2022, we, alongside SSG, travelled to a location we were confident we could find Sbu, not knowing who or what waited for us but willing to take the chance if it meant we could find him.
Once we reached the town, we stopped at the local police station to solicit their help but we were unsuccessful in this regard, with the police citing that we are not family and thus they cannot intervene. A decision they took after 2hrs5mins of hard negotiations. Again, SSG stepped up their support to us as the Vodacom Bulls and gave us the cover that we needed to go knocking at the doors where we thought Sbu was.
At approximately 13:33 we arrived at the location and began to knock, call and pray that we would atleast see Sbu.
Fortuitously, as we were considering moving to another address, his father-in-law pulled up to the gate – assuming that he was coming to visit – and he confirmed that Sbu was indeed inside the home. Having last seen him on Wednesday 30 November 2022. That spurred us on as we waited with hope that could not be dampened by the rain.
At approximately 14:02pm, Sbu stepped up to the gate and opened it for me without hesitation or resistance. We shared brief pleasantries because of the pouring rain and he invited me inside where we spent some 40 minutes speaking.
Specific contents of our conversation I cannot share, as I am sure we all can understand but in summary, it was important for me to establish that he was okay, safe and unharmed. Pursuant to that, it was important to try and understand where he is at, what has led to his decision and how we as a company and rugby family can be of support to him.
We were thrilled to find Sbu and incredibly relieved to see that he was alive. Equally, we were saddened to see him in the state that he was in, a gentle soul who has somewhat seen his light dim owing to his current well-being.
I am however confident that we are in a good position to provide Sbu with the support he needs and that we should acknowledge his incredible courage to even say to us, that he is not okay. Because he does not owe us that and yet he did, a valuable lesson for me and those around Sbu and one day, this will be his story to champion and empower other men to find the courage and find power in accepting help when not okay.
We would like to thank South Africans who joined us in prayer and those who asked how they could help.
Thank you to those who used their media stables to help us spread the message.
Now that Sbu is found and is going to be getting the support that he needs, we ask that we as the community around him, please offer him the space and privacy he needs to work on re- building his confidence and return to the Sbu we all have come to know him as. Let us be kind and desist from making untoward remarks that may not only be harmful towards him but others who are in similar positions and have not found the courage to seek help yet.
Finally, to all of you who are watching this or will have the opportunity to hear this, please be encouraged that it is okay to not feel okay. Seeking help does not make you weak or less valuable, it is my belief that it makes you stronger and shows that you are brave enough to seek support. So please seek support.
We as the Vodacom Bulls will now be exploring, alongside our supportive partners, support mechanisms that we can introduce in our rugby community and this is hopefully the start of something great for South African rugby because we are lucky today but tomorrow, our intervention may be too late and that is not something we want to see become a reality.
Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Bayonne At Thomond
The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Saturday’s Investec Champions Cup opener against Bayonne at Thomond Park (5.30pm).
Buy match tickets here.
Jean Kleyn will be unavailable until the New Year due to an eye injury suffered in the Leinster match. He attended for a specialist review last Tuesday and Wednesday and will have further follow-up before Christmas.
Jack Daly (ankle) and Liam Coombes (shoulder) both underwent surgery last week and will begin rehabilitation under the medical department.
There is good news for Patrick Campbell (ankle) as he has returned to team training.
Jack O’Donoghue (ankle) will also return to training this week.
Simon Zebo (knee) will continue to rehabilitate early this week.
The availability of Campbell, O’Donoghue and Zebo will be determined later in the week.
Peter O’Mahony (shoulder) is improving but will remain unavailable for the Bayonne clash.
Continuing to rehab: Jack Daly (ankle), Peter O’Mahony (shoulder), Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Joey Carbery (wrist), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles), Niall Scannell (groin).
There were 11 Munster players in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.
In Division 1A, Fionn Gibbons, Chris Moore and Keynan Knox helped Young Munster to a win over City of Armagh with Gibbons among the tries.
Ethan Coughlan and Daniel Okeke were in action for Shannon as they were beaten away to Terenure College.
In Division 1B, Jack Oliver, George Hadden and Colm Hogan helped Garryowen beat Blackrock College with Hogan scoring a try on his debut for the club. Oliver also kicked three conversions and two penalties.
Jack O’Sullivan and Ben O’Connor featured for UCC as they were narrowly beaten by Old Wesley.
In Evan O’Connell helped UL Bohemians to a draw against MU Barnhall.
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Peter O’Mahony Steps Down After Over 10 Years As Munster Captain
Munster Rugby can confirm that Peter O’Mahony has made the decision to step down as squad captain after over 10 years leading the province.
O’Mahony first captained Munster in a competitive game on September 3, 2011 at the age of 21. It was just his 12th appearance for the province and he led the side for the opening five games of that season.
He took over the Munster captaincy on a permanent basis ahead of the 2013/14 season following the departure of Doug Howlett.
The 2022/23 season was O’Mahony’s 10th year as squad captain and ended with glory in Cape Town as he lifted the URC title with Keith Earls after a thrilling win over the Stormers.
Along with captaining Munster, he has also led Ireland and the British & Irish Lions.
Head Coach Graham Rowntree and the coaching team will select a new squad captain in due course.
Peter O’Mahony said: “Captaining Munster has been a dream come true for me.
“I grew up watching and idolising the Munster team and in particular the people who were leading the team.
“People like Mick Galwey, Jim Williams then on to the likes of ROG and Paul, who I had the privilege of playing with at the start of my career.
“I can remember the day I was asked to be captain like it was yesterday and discussing it with Paul to get his approval.
“From that day to this it’s been an utter privilege and has never been something I’ve taken for granted.
“However, having given a huge amount of thought to it, I think it is the right time to step back from the role to share my experiences and give the same guidance that I received when I took on the role.
“What an unbelievable honour it has been…and will always continue to be.”
Paying tribute to O’Mahony’s over 10 years as captain, Rowntree said: “You couldn’t pick a better leader than Pete and he has been a fantastic captain for this club.
“To lead Munster from such a young age and for so many years speaks volumes of his ability as a player on the pitch and a person off it.
“He commands huge respect and will still be a massive leader within the group. To have someone of Pete’s experience on hand to help us with the succession process is invaluable.
“We have a strong leadership group within the squad and will confirm a new squad captain in due course.”
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Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Leinster In Dublin
The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Saturday’s URC round 6 clash against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium (6.30pm, live on TG4).
Our next home game is against Glasgow Warriors at Musgrave Park on Friday, December 1 (7.35pm). Buy match tickets here.
Following Saturday’s win over Stormers, Peter O’Mahony (shoulder) and Jack O’Donoghue (ankle) will both go for scans on their respective injuries.
Diarmuid Barron has progressed through the return to play protocols and will be available for selection.
Continuing to rehab: Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Joey Carbery (wrist), Patrick Campbell (ankle), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles), Niall Scannell (groin).
On the AIL front, there were nine Munster players in action for their clubs at the weekend.
In Division 1A, Keynan Knox and Fionn Gibbons helped Young Munster to a win over Terenure College at Tom Clifford Park.
Ethan Coughlan and Daniel Okeke were in action for Shannon as they were beaten by Lansdowne in Dublin.
In Division 1B, Jack Oliver and George Hadden lined out for Garryowen as they were beaten by St Mary’s College with Oliver kicking a conversion and a penalty.
Jack O’Sullivan was a try-scorer for UCC with Ben O’Connor also starting as they beat Queen’s University at the Mardyke.
In Division 1B, Evan O’Connell helped UL Bohemian to a 16-12 victory over Ballymena at Annacotty.
URC Round 7: Friday, December 1
Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Champions Cup Round 1: Saturday, December 9
Munster Rugby v Bayonne, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 8: Tuesday, December 26
Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20
Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here
Saturday, February 3
Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; Buy final tickets here
URC Round 11: Friday, March 1
Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30
Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11
Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1
Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here
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