Despite all his passion, Robert Ebersohn does not have many rugby heroes.
Despite all his passion, Robert Ebersohn does not have many rugby heroes.

Family affair for Ebersohn

DUBAI // If points were handed out for originality, South Africa would start their World Cup against Japan this evening a try to the good, thanks to Robert Ebersohn's choice of hero. Ebersohn is one half of the most highly rated sibling partnership in South African sport since the Morkel brothers, Albie and Morne, stormed international cricket.

He and twin brother Sias turned 20 last week. While Robert will be the Springboks' go-to guy in Dubai this weekend, his brother will be playing fly-half for the national under 20 side on their tour of South America. They attended Grey's College in Bloemfontain, South Africa's premier rugby establishment, where Ebersohn also excelled at athletics. He was the fastest hurdles athlete in the country at under 15 level, but he said: "You did athletics so you were faster for your rugby. It was always the second choice."

Given the overriding obsession for rugby, it would be safe to assume he grew up idolising Francois Pienaar, or Schalk Burger, or Bryan Habana. Not so. "I have a lot of heroes, but not so many rugby heroes," said Ebersohn, who played a key role in South Africa winning the Dubai Rugby Sevens in November. "Hansie Cronje [the disgraced former South African cricket captain] failed, and he could still stand up and say sorry and that he was guilty. He is taking the blame, and guys like that I admire because of their honesty, rather than guys who make it big in rugby."

Cronje sullied his reputation due to his involvement in cricket's match-fixing scandal. When trouble found Cronje, he sought consolation in religion, and Ebersohn is also a devout Christian. "Sport was part of our background growing up, but we are also a close Christian family. We know sport cannot be the centre of your life. "When rugby is over, what is left in your life? That is more or less how we base our lives. We love playing sport, but you can't play rugby for the rest of your life, there has to be something else.

"We have a very close bond between me, my brother and sister [Annerie, 19, a budding athlete] and mum and dad. That is one of the things that contributes to being a better me." Cronje encouraged team prayer meetings during his stint as cricket captain. It is an idea shared by some of the sevens side. "Out of the 12, there are maybe seven or eight of us who come together twice a week and have Bible study or chat about it," added Ebersohn.

"Part of the Bible is David and Goliath. David was a small man and he killed giants. We definitely take that on to the battlefield."

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

If you go

  • The nearest international airport to the start of the Chuysky Trakt is in Novosibirsk. Emirates ( offer codeshare flights with S7 Airlines ( via Moscow for US$5,300 (Dh19,467) return including taxes. Cheaper flights are available on Flydubai and Air Astana or Aeroflot combination, flying via Astana in Kazakhstan or Moscow. Economy class tickets are available for US$650 (Dh2,400).
  • The Double Tree by Hilton in Novosibirsk (+7 383 2230100,) has double rooms from US$60 (Dh220). You can rent cabins at camp grounds or rooms in guesthouses in the towns for around US$25 (Dh90).
  • The transport Minibuses run along the Chuysky Trakt but if you want to stop for sightseeing, hire a taxi from Gorno-Altaisk for about US$100 (Dh360) a day. Take a Russian phrasebook or download a translation app. Tour companies such as Altair-Tour (+7 383 2125115 ) offer hiking and adventure packages.
Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Sri Lanka squad

Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Kumara, Jeffrey Vandersay, Milinda Siriwardana, Roshen Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Charith Asalanka, Shaminda Eranga and Dhammika Prasad.

The specs: 2019 BMW i8 Roadster

Price, base: Dh708,750

Engine: 1.5L three-cylinder petrol, plus 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 374hp (total)

Torque: 570Nm (total)

Fuel economy, combined: 2.0L / 100km


UAE (S. Tagliabue 90+1') 1-2 Uzbekistan (Shokhruz Norkhonov 48', 86')


Favourite book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Holiday choice: Anything Disney-related

Proudest achievement: Receiving a presidential award for foreign services.

Family: Wife and three children.

Like motto: You always get what you ask for, the universe listens.


Syria v Australia
2018 World Cup qualifying: Asia fourth round play-off first leg
Venue: Hang Jebat Stadium, Malayisa
Kick-off: Thursday, 4.30pm (UAE)
Watch: beIN Sports HD

* Second leg in Australia on October 10

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Director: Omar Hilal
Stars: Muhammad Farrag, Bayoumi Fouad, Nelly Karim
Rating: 4/5


Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now


Main card

Robert Whittaker defeated Ikram Aliskerov via knockout (Round 1)
Alexander Volkov def Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision
Kelvin Gastelum def Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision
Shara Magomedov def Antonio Trocoli via knockout (Round 3)
Light heavyweight:
Volkan Oezdemir def Johnny Walker via knockout (Round 1)
Preliminary Card

Nasrat Haqparast def Jared Gordon via split decision
Felipe Lima def Muhammad Naimov via submission (Round 3)
Rinat Fakhretdinov defeats Nicolas Dalby via split decision
Muin Gafurov def Kang Kyung-ho via unanimous decision
Light heavyweight:
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision
Chang Ho Lee def Xiao Long via split decision


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

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