CAPE TOWN – Perhaps it was written in the stars. After all, every 12 years the Springboks have the knack of winning the Rugby World Cup, with yesterday’s triumph in Tokyo continuing a pattern that begun in 1995 and continued in 2007.
Yesterday’s magnificent victory, though, will have an extra special place in South African hearts because it was a courageous victory for the underdogs. Few had given the Springboks a chance against an England team that had blown away the champion All Blacks in the semi-finals.
Instead, the Boks rose to the occasion and delivered a rousing performance that reminds South Africans of what can be achieved by the Rainbow Nation when all work together.
The image of Siya Kolisi, the first black Springbok captain, hoisting aloft the Webb Ellis Cup is as iconic as the one of Madiba congratulating Francois Pienaar in ’95.
Kolisi, speaking directly after the final whistle, spoke of the energy his team had drawn from their homeland. He spoke of a troubled country that needed good news and of the responsibility the Springboks had embraced to deliver an example of what is possible in our country.
It is indeed something of a South African miracle that the Springboks are the world champions given that they were in a shambles two years ago and ranked a lowly seventh in the world.
Kolisi mentioned that South Africans of all colours and cultures had selflessly pulled together to turn around the Springboks and that it was his fervent hope that the Boks have inspired their country.
They surely have done that and, in turn, it is the responsibility of the rest of South Africa to take their cue from the Boks, put aside their petty squabbles and put their country first.
The Springbok emblem quite understandably has been the centre of heated emotions given its former apartheid connotations, but due to Madiba’s intervention, it survived and now has the potential to grow into a rallying point for all South Africans.
That is the true beauty of Siya Kolisi holding up the Webb Ellis Cup, wearing a similar No 6 jersey to the one worn by Nelson Mandela in 1995.