Mapimpi, who scored the Boks’ first try in the Rugby World Cup Final against England on 2 November 2019, was granted a ‘mini-sabbatical’ from his contract with the Cell C Sharks to return to Japan, where he played for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes under former Springbok lock and Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann.
Due to the COVID-pandemic, Mapimpi only made his Japanese club debut early in March, but he underlined his class almost immediately by scoring a try, and having a hand in their match-winning five-pointer scored in the last minute by All Black scrumhalf TJ Perenara.
By the time his short-term contract in Japan ended, Mapimpi had scored four tries in six matches for the Red Hurricanes. He is now available for the remainder of the Cell C Sharks’ PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA matches.
Born in Mdantsane township near East London, he was somewhat of a 'late developer' and only made his Test debut under Rassie Erasmus on 2 June 2018 against Wales in Washington DC, at the age of 27 years old.
A scholar at Jim Mvabasa Senior Secondary School in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, Mapimpi never played provincial rugby at school and made more than 50 appearances for the Border Bulldogs before being called up for higher honours with the Southern Kings.
He played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Southern Kings, then had a brief stint with the Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14 and later joined the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
In Vodacom Super Rugby, Mapimpi scored a total of 25 tries in 46 appearances (11 in 14 matches for the Kings, and 14 in 32 matches for the Sharks), and in the colours of the Cheetahs, he made 13 Guinness PRO14 appearances and scored 10 tries.
At Test level, Mapimpi has bagged 14 tries in 14 Tests, of which his memorable five-pointer in Yokohama against England – the first by a Springbok in a RWC final – is arguably the most memorable.