Friday marks the 10th anniversary of the Springboks’ second Rugby World Cup final victory, when they beat England 15-6 in Paris to become only the second team in history to win the Webb Ellis Cup twice.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said on Friday that the Bok “Class of 2007”, under the coaching of Jake White and captaincy of John Smit, had done the country a wonderful service when they won the World Cup in the French capital.
“It was a great day for South Africa,” said Alexander.
“We must never forget what that team did for us as a country, but also for rugby as a sport here in South Africa.
“They achieved something very few thought was possible, and did so with grace and humility, something that lifted South Africans and showed what we can achieve.
“Just like the 1995 team of the late Kitch Christie and Francois Pienaar, rugby united our country in a very special way. These teams will always be dear to our hearts.”
Alexander thanked the 2007 Springbok squad once again for their efforts of a decade ago and reaffirmed that they held a special place in the hearts of South Africans, both today and always.
The Boks kicked off the tournament with a 59-7 victory over Samoa in their pool match in Paris before they laid down a significant marker by disposing of England, then the defending champions, 36-0 at the Stade de France.
The Boks had to work hard to beat Tonga in their third pool match 30-25 in Lens, and clinched top spot in their group with a 64-15 win over the USA in Montpellier.
The Fijians, who had knocked out Ireland, were the Boks’ quarter-final opponents in Marseille, a match the South Africans won 37-20, before they faced Argentina in the semi-final, winning 37-13 at the Stade de France.
In the final, also at the Stade de France in front of a capacity crowd of more than 80 000 people, Percy Montgomery (four) and Frans Steyn (one) kicked penalty goals as the Boks ran out 15-6 winners.
Montgomery finished the tournament as the top points-scorer with 105, Bryan Habana’s eight tries were the most by any player (and equalled Jonah Lomu’s World Cup record) and Steyn became the youngest player to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, aged only 20 at that stage.
“Thank you for what you’ve done for South Africa and rugby in our country. We’re proud to celebrate this day as a rugby family,” said Alexander.
“It’s a pity we could not hold a proper reunion, but the fact is that no fewer than 12 members of the 31-man squad are still plying their trade across the globe, from France to England and Japan, while many are now successful businessmen or coaches. Hopefully one day we will have all them together again.”
To mark the occasion, SA Rugby will remember the 2007 Rugby World Cup through the memories of members of the squad, their thoughts on the tournament and the final posted on various social media platforms during Friday.
On the day of the Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks at Newlands, available members of the squad got together for an informal function in Cape Town.
* Exactly 10 years to the day since the Springboks won the World Cup in Paris, SuperSport will rebroadcast three of the most epic matches – including the final – on Friday. The memorable final against England will be broadcast at 8.40am (SS2) and again at 9.30pm (SS2).
The dramatic quarter-final match against Fiji aired at 5am on Friday, which will be followed at 6.50am by a repeat of the SA v Argentina semi-final that saw Bryan Habana produce two scorching tries. All the action will be on SuperSport 2.