The story about Kwagga Smith’s Karee Kraal.
A man that needs no introduction, Springbok flanker with a love for his family, his country. A man with high morals, that believes in a strong foundation, a base that can withstand any storm. A man that has built his way to success, internationally as well – Kwagga Smith. We checked in with Kwagga to get to know the man behind the Green & Gold jersey. His love for farming, his respect for the South African bushveld and how braai, family and togetherness is the core of his existence.
It was the year 2020. The world came to a halt. No more rugby. No more travelling. No more nothing. Covid impacted us all in different ways, for Kwagga, it meant not being able to practice his craft, pursue his career of professional rugby and doing what he loved. During this time, another dream of his got rattled – to farm on his own land. A farm that he put an offer in to buy, all before covid. It was too late to back out. It was do-or-die or lose it all.
The strange thing about a dream that you’ve had since you were little, isn’t something that just fades away with time. A dream like that creates a serious drive within your heart, like the spark within a fire. And it burns with shades of purple, blue and red all at the same time. It simply can’t be extinguished. That was how Kwagga felt about owning a farm. A farm far enough away from the comfort and safety of his family. That the only choice is to put in the work and make it a success.
Kwagga and his wife, Ilke, had a dream for this farm. A dream that went beyond rugby, beyond the fame and the riches. A dream that almost didn’t happen because of the pandemic, but now, as they look back, it is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to them. Eight months of no rugby meant Kwagga and Ilke had time to graft. At that stage of the South African lockdown, they had no idea how long it would take. How long they would have to put in the work, in the soil, in the cottages, in the dream to make it a reality.
They lived about an hour away from the farm with family at the time. Every single morning, they packed up their braai, food, water, tools and equipment to head out to their new farm – Karee Kraal. The plan was to build the elements that will monetize first before investing in elements that will be profitable later. His dad taught him from a young age how to be proactive with his finances, especially with a career in rugby, and to build a life that will be sustainable.
Kwagga grew up in a family that thrived on togetherness, bonding around a fire, camping, and being silly and free on the farm. On Sundays they all used to braai together and then just play the afternoon away. Decembers were for camping in Mozambique, being outdoors and having fun. Since then, his love for the bushveld and family time was ingrained in his being. Now, on his own farm, he could really dream of a family with his wife, giving his kids the same freedom that he had growing up.
In less than a year, Karee Kraal was built as a now fully functioning luxury accommodation in Dullstroom. Each cottage can sleep 4 guests and is equipped with Megamaster braai facilities, a Megamaster fireplace, and spacious rooms. The farm has fly-fishing facilities and each cottage has an enclosed space for furry friends to come with. It was truly a key moment in the Smith family! What better way to celebrate the opening, than with Kwagga’s legendary ‘staan rib’! The initiation if you will of Karee Kraal, with the first braai in our 1200 Deluxe Built-in Braai.
Eventually, everything started heading towards normality again, so it was back to Japan for the next rugby season post-covid. Kwagga has played 4 seasons for Yamaha Jubilo thus far, while representing South Africa in the Springbok team during the British & Irish Lions tour, and now against Wales again for a series of 3 test matches. The challenge was that the Smith family’s new farm had to function without them as they traveled for rugby. Karee Kraal had to continue with its success even though Kwagga and Ilke were out-and-about spreading South African spirit in other parts of the world.
Their philosophy is that any situation is what you make of it – whether you are braaiing braai broodjies in the countryside of Japan, or eating roasts made by rugby teammates from different cultures. If you have a positive mindset, then you will truly be happy wherever you are. It is no surprise that our South African braai broodjies is a favourite under Kwagga’s teammates in Japan.
It took a pandemic, uncertainty, and a total halt in his career for Kwagga to chase his ultimate dream. Lockdown ignited a passion within him to build a life for his family that will become his legacy. Where he too can braai on a Sunday, with his people, providing them with love, memories, and togetherness. A Springbok rugby player that has represented our country with pride and has ignited the power of humbleness and simplicity in the adversities of life. A flame that will burn for many years to come.