Hacjivah Dayimani will be looking to continue a cracking start to his Heineken Champions Cup career when DHL Stormers visit London Irish in Round 3 on Sunday.
The No.8 was on the losing side when DHL Stormers travelled to ASM Clermont Auvergne in their maiden game in EPCR’s leading competition, but showcased his frightening ability when they saw off London Irish in Cape Town in Round 2.
Dayimani was one of the most effective attackers of the round as he gained 119 metres and finished excellently for his side’s second try in a 34-14 win.
And amid his eye-catching displays so far, the 25-year-old has explained his incredible journey to the pinnacle of club rugby, with a difficult upbringing seeing him move around South Africa and ultimately run away from home.
“I think growing up for me life was actually normal and only when I got to where I am today, I actually realised that it wasn’t normal, because of the different people I met along the journey,” he said.
“I stayed with my mum. [She was] unemployed. I had friends who chose a different type of life, and my mum sent me away to Cradock.
“My granny was a domestic worker, two jobs, and looked after I think nine or 10 siblings. [There were] changes because some of them would leave, come back, leave, come back.
“I was actually one of the guys that spoke good English, when I put it that way, and I interacted well with the other kids and my granny felt that this one is a bigger thing for you, and she sent me away.
“Went to Joburg, looked for my dad, met my dad [who was] a religious, devoted Jew, who was very strict and even when I started playing rugby, never wanted me to play rugby.
“So, I left and ran away from home, went to a different school, got a scholarship and got there basically staying alone in a hostel, a yearly boarder. [Then I] got adopted by a family in Joburg and that’s basically my life in a nutshell.”
Dayimani’s passion for rugby was kickstarted when he moved to Rugby, the aptly named area in Cape Town, with a try from Bryan Habana, a two-time Heineken Champions Cup winner, a defining moment for him.
“Finding a place in Rugby is actually ironic because I play rugby now, and [when I] got to Rugby this landlord said you guys can stay in this one bedroom and put all our stuff in this one bedroom and gave us a TV,” he recalled.
“[We were] watching the news, then rugby started playing, and that’s the World Cup I really know, the 2007 World Cup.
“I remember watching the sports sitting there because [it was] all we could watch, my mum was cleaning and stuff. I remember South Africa were playing and Bryan Habana caught the intercept and just went, went, went and dived.
“The way Bryan Habana dived, as a kid, that was so cool and that’s when my first idea of rugby came about.
“From there, I think that’s where my whole love for rugby started.”
Hacjivah Dayimani's 119 metres in #HeinekenChampionsCup R2 was the most by any forward in a game this season 👊
We caught up with @THESTORMERS No. 8 to find out more about his incredible journey into rugby from the bottom to the top ➡️ https://t.co/hxV7qqHtXa pic.twitter.com/MUEYPIR1xb
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 2, 2023
After taking his first steps in the sport as a wing, Dayimani’s talent slowly became evident as a switch to the forwards – and Jeppe High School in Johannesburg – eventually saw him receive offers from paid set-ups.
“When I started playing rugby, I never thought I’d make money,” he admitted.”I thought one day I’d finish school, become a teacher or a policeman.
“Where I’m from, if you’re a policeman it’s a high rank and I felt like that’s what I wanted to do, or join the Army. Just earn a salary. That’s all I wanted to do.
“And then when I got to Jeppe, rugby became a culture. It was serious. Everyone was talking about rugby; they treat rugby players differently.
“[I] was good at rugby and when I started getting approached by teams, that’s when it clicked. They’ll offer you something after school, 1,000 Rand or whatever and you start thinking, start calculating the stuff you could do with that money.
“You start thinking of your mum back at home and your granny. If I can get this amount, put this amount separately for myself, and send this money home, you think to yourself ‘I could live, I’m out’.
“This is life-changing, you know, and that’s when I started realising that I can do something big with the sport.”
Dayimani’s Heineken Champions Cup journey continues on Sunday at 13:00 (UK & Irish time), with DHL Stormers’ game at London Irish available to watch on BT Sport, SuperSport, beIN SPORTS and FloRugby.