Springboks / 2 November 2019, 10:40am / wynona louw
When Nelson Mandela handed the Webb Ellis trophy to Francois Pienaar in 1995, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was too young to give a first-hand account of the magical moment. He was just four years old.
Fast forward two decades, and the Stormers and Bok openside flanker now has the chance to lift the same golden trophy, just like Pienaar did in the No 6 jersey in front of a packed Ellis Park and with a nation delirious with joy watching on TV.
He might just have videos and images to go on, but Kolisi needs no briefing on what a victory over England in the Rugby World Cup final today can do.
“I was obviously very young in 1995, so I don’t remember anything about that - other than the videos and images I’ve seen. It was definitely beautiful to see that, and I got to experience that in 2007 when I watched and saw what it did for the country,” he said yesterday in his last media engagement before the final.
“It does make a huge difference and it’s big back at home. I haven’t seen this much support since I’ve played for the team. The President was speaking about it in Parliament, asking the whole country to wear Springbok jerseys today and, if you are in a car, you must hoot at one o’clock.
“We know how much rugby means to the country and what it has done in the past.
“We have different races in our team and that is one of our strongest points, and that’s something we want to show by the way we play, that we can achieve stuff together, as long as we buy into, whatever it is that we want to achieve.
“We’ve seen the videos and I can’t imagine what it would be like (in South Africa) if we win the trophy.”
Leading the Springboks in a World Cup final - as the first black Springbok captain - is massive on its own. Doing so in your 50th Test appearance for the Springboks, indescribable.
For Kolisi, though, his individual milestone isnt taking up too much mental space, regardless of how long his road to that half century has been, which should make it even more rewarding.
“I haven’t thought much about anything else. The most important thing tomorrow is making sure that I do my part for the team. It is a special day for every single guy in the team. Obviously, I am very happy that I’ve reached 50 and not a lot of Springboks have achieved that.”
Having a shot at the World Cup would be motivation enough for any team.
For South Africa, though, that driving force will be even stronger.
If the Boks win, they will become the first team in history to win the World Cup having lost a game in the pool stages.
They will also become the first team to win a Rugby Championship title and a World Cup in the same year.
The fact that they were seventh on the rankings heading into the Japan spectacle is another factor that makes their final appearance such a remarkable one.
But stats and possible records aren’t the factors Kolisi is focusing on.
“Winning the trophy will not only be huge for us, but the country as well. It’s not about me and what it would mean for me, but more about what it will mean for the team.
“We are different South Africans from different walks of life, but we bought into coach Rassie’s (Erasmus) plans and we just said, ‘this is what we want to achieve’.
“We’ve given it everything, so it would be huge to show that, as a country, no matter where we come from, we can buy into one plan and we can achieve our goals.
“That’s how important it would be for us as a team and for the country. ”