Johannesburg - The legacy guys such as Francois Pienaar, Joel Stransky and Chester Williams laid a platform in 1995 for the Springboks to be where they are in international rugby today.
It was a history-making victory that changed many things around sport in South Africa, especially for rugby.
It was the first time South Africa had competed at a Rugby World Cup, the first time they hosted one, and the first time they won it.
When the final of the 2023 Rugby World Cup between the Boks and the All Blacks kicks off tonight (9pm) at the Stade de France in Paris, South Africa will be looking to add another first in international rugby to the rest of their accolades.
They can be the first team in the world to win the trophy for a record fourth time, despite missing out on the first two tournaments (in 1987 and 1991) due to apartheid.
Another trophy will add to their rich legacy that will hopefully inspire the next generation of rugby players in the country, just like the 1995 team did.
History beckons for captain Siya Kolisi and his troops, and they have the 23-man squad to achieve that.
It’s the most experienced Springbok side picked to date, and one that has shown before that they can trounce the All Blacks – just like the 1995 team did at Ellis Park in that final.
Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said the victory back then changed the image of the game in South Africa.
“When I think about that last final, I was an 11-year-old back then. Every kid just wanted to be Joel Stransky – I was called ‘Township Stransky’ – or James Small, and these guys,” Stick said in the French capital yesterday.
“Just to be able to play (in) a World Cup final is a very special one. You ask about our background... to be honest this is what we live for.
“It’s about the people who are dreaming to be in our position in the communities back in South Africa. We just want to do everything in our power to make sure we are reuniting those people.
“For a guy like Siya, coming from where he did… Wow, no doubt in 20 years, there will be a lot of Siya Kolisis, boys who have got here irrespective of background.
“We just want to make our people proud because the messages we get are very special.”
No doubt South Africans want the win by all means, but the achievements of the team to date have been nothing short of brilliant.
They were happy to take the most difficult route to the final, and did not complain once about perceived skewed draws and having to face hosts France and England in the quarter- and semi-finals respectively, where they pulled off two heart-stopping one-point victories.
There has been no peep from the side after one of their own, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, was accused of alleged racism by England’s Tom Curry – something that almost dictated the entire discourse this week.
The English press are still hounding the story, but the Boks decided their focus will only be the All Blacks – and achieving success for the jersey, their supporters and the whole of Mzansi.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber and his assistant Felix Jones will depart the team after this game.
Several players will play their final World Cup match, so there is a lot on the line, and the Boks have prepared to go to the “dark side” to be successful.
Cheslin Kolbe will celebrate his 30th birthday today, but the hot-stepper does not want to make it all about him.
He thanked South Africans for making the journey they are on even more special.
“We got to see some clips this morning, and it brought a few tears,” Kolbe said yesterday.
“To see South Africans making a plan, no matter the circumstances, whatever the difficulties... As South Africans, we will always make a plan to watch the Springboks.
“As Springboks, we are really humbled by the videos we have received, and hopefully we can do our country proud. We are really thankful for all their support. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”