Sango and Siba Xamlashe played against each other for the first time during last month's FNB Varsity Cup match between FNB UP-Tuks and FNB Maties, much to the delight of their family.
Sango (23) captained the hosts at outside centre, with Siba (20) starting on the left wing for Stellenbosch, who won 31-24.
"Our support squad [family] enjoy supporting both of us and consider themselves both Tukkies/Bulls and Maties/WP fans, so their rugby calendar is always full!" says Sango, a BCom General student at the University of Pretoria."
"In all honesty, there is no bad blood between us despite our opposing rugby cultures," says Siba, whose primary position is fullback. "There's a lot of banter, though, which always makes for good conversation around the family table!"
The Xamlashe brothers are both products of Selborne College in East London. Siba has always looked to Sango for advice, even though they play different positions, and regarded him as a role model.
"From a young age, I’ve sort of been chipping off of his skills and rugby knowledge without him actually knowing," says Siba with a smile.
"Sango helped mould me into the player I am today. He helped me to always be a step or two ahead of the other kids in my age group. I’ve learnt most of the things I know from him including, most importantly, the lessons of life – to work hard and always fight for what you want," he adds.
One can feel the love between the two when they are asked about each other's rugby careers.
"I don’t doubt for a minute that Sango will become a professional rugby player," says Siba, a third-year BAgric student.
"There’s a lot more in store for him and it’s only a matter of time before he makes it if he continues to work hard and push himself. I know he’s also fascinated about going overseas and I'd back him 100% if he did."
Sango is just as complimentary towards his brother.
"Siba is a well-rounded player and an asset to Western Province," he says. "He's standing on the edge of greatness and definitely has the skill-set to make it.
"I felt for him last year, as he would have played for the Junior Springboks if not for the Covid-19 pandemic. I played for the Junior Boks in 2018 and the competition does sharpen your ability and prepare you for senior rugby.
"I'm looking forward to facing him again and hopefully playing alongside him in the future," Sango adds.
– Catch the Xamlashe brothers in action when the FNB Varsity Cup resumes on Monday, 17 May.
Photo: Bronwen Bain