The Lily White Rugby Football Club (RFC) will be celebrating their illustrious history of rugby in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), with their 125 year anniversary celebrations in Easter 2019. For Msitheli Michael Pinini, the Honorary Life President of Lily White RFC, his birthplace of “Q” Street in Tyantyi Location is where the spirit of the game caught him at the age of nine.
Pinini was born and bred in the ”City of saints”, Makhanda (Formerly Grahamstown), at “Q” Street, in the heart of Tantyi Location. He attended the Junior primary education at the Methodist church School (Wisile, now as Samuel Ntsiko), where he excelled at rugby, playing for the under 9s, under 11s and under 13s respectively.
He completed his senior primary education at the Higher Mission School, now known as Andrew Moyakhe. This was where he mastered the art of the game, playing throughout standards 5 and 6. He was the youngest player to play in the first team at the local level, under the tutelage of Mr. K Daniels.
Pinini then moved on to Kama Secondary School, in Middle drift, where he was described by his coaches as a an exceptionally brilliant player with a lot flair and commitment to the game. This was evident from the school teams to his club team.
There was a lot of talk surrounding Pinini between the local club teams and coaches in Makhanda, as they had never witnessed a player like him before. While each club wanted a glimpse of Pinini’s beautiful of style, he was approached by Winter Rose, while in Lily White.
His mother was a single parent, and did not want him to play at local level,because she feared that his son would be injured against older players. However, after a visit from one the brother of Winter Rose’s coach at the time, she allowed her son to follow his dream.
Pinini recalls that visit, and what the man had said to him. “Mfana, I reckon that you are the best flyhalf in Grahamstown, after Trevor Mill.” Mill had played for the Albany Rugby Club, and to Pinini, that was the highest form of praise he could have achieved.
As he grew into the best flyhalf in the Grahamstown Rugby Board, Pinini participated in the Eastern Province Rugby Boards trials, held in Uitenhage. From there, he continued to work in the management levels of the club, between 1951 to 2019, moving up the ranks from an ordinary committee member, to Deputy President and President, before ultimately being heralded as Life President, where he is now and will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the club that he loves.