Winning the Rugby World Cup against the All Blacks from New Zealand would give the country a huge boost. However, the problems at the Cape of Good Hope are enormous.
After the Springboks beat the New Zealand All Blacks in the final of the Rugby World Cup, supremacy cheered at the Cape of Good Hope. “The most dramatic World Cup final ever” enthused South African rugby union; “The most important match in the 150 years of international rugby,” headlines internet service super.rugby; “The best Springbok team ever,” says South African news service News24. With their 12:11 victory on Saturday night at the Stade de France in Paris, the Springboks became the first team to win the Rugby World Cup, held every four years since 1987, four times – and, along with the All Blacks, the only team to have won the Rugby World Cup, held every four years since 1987. Of doing this twice in a row.
The Buckeyes’ bumpy victory couldn’t have come at a better time. “There are not many good events in our home country at the moment. We are happy that we were able to delight our compatriots with our success,” South Africa captain Sia Kolisi said after the rain-soaked match. No wonder South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who traveled to France for the final, also spoke of “an extraordinary and inspiring national achievement”: it made “the hearts of all South Africans beat faster.” BBC sports correspondent Mike Henson summed it up perfectly: “New Zealand wanted to cry, South Africa had to.”
Nelson Mandela’s descendants are currently at risk of sliding into deeper levels of collective depression. Economic recession, persistent unemployment and rampant corruption have brought public sentiment to an all-time low. In light of the Springboks’ victory, the ruling ANC now believes it can breathe a sigh of relief, at least temporarily: its reputation has come under severe pressure due to its failure to manage electricity and water supplies.
Reconciliation through sport
However, rugby is a tough sport in South Africa. During the apartheid era, wrestling was particularly popular among whites, while black South Africans focused on football. The huge white rugby players were a symbol of the brutality of the Boer regime: when foreign teams toured the country, they were usually cheered on by black spectators rather than the home team.
This only changed with Nelson Mandela’s remarkable handling of the first Rugby World Cup held in South Africa in 1995. Instead of making it as difficult as possible for the Springboks and forcing them to field a quota of black players, which the vast majority of the Rugby Party opposed, African National Congress. In support of the officials, Madiba acknowledged the potential of sport as a tool for reconciliation. He ensnared the Springboks with his good faith and made them representatives of the Rainbow Nation – depicted in the Clint Eastwood film ‘Invictus’.
Almost 30 years later, the extent of Mandela’s success cannot be hidden from anyone: although the majority of the Bukai team are still white and of Boer origin, the number of black key players is constantly increasing: he has long captained the national team Lions team captain, winger Kolisi. In addition, the strongest and most important figures in the group are the prostitute Mbongeni Mbonambi and Prop Richegovaditswe (“Ox”) Nshi: the two black professional athletes are now revered as heroes throughout South Africa, just like Faf de Klerk or Pieter Stiff. Du Toit. In all fields and in all population groups. Even if many black South Africans did not necessarily know the confusing rules of rugby: on Saturday evening they filled public fan parks or were glued to their television screens in even greater numbers than their white compatriots.
Whether the right team became world champions on Saturday is of course debatable. For the New Zealanders, it was English referee Wayne Barnes who was primarily responsible for their defeat, as their captain Sam Keane was sent off for a dangerous tackle. However, even those who are jealous admit that the Springboks were (almost) flawless, especially in defence: and for that reason – and because they were cheered so vociferously by a nation not entirely spoiled by success – the Bokies can now claim to be world champions for four years. Others described South Africa as the best rugby country ever.
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