Despite Saturday's drubbing, there is still something England can teach SA
Nov. 04, 2019
Despite Saturday’s drubbing, there is still something England can teach SA
I had the good fortune that my brief corporate adventure coincided with one of the greatest moments in SA’s history. The role included responsibility for Absa’s sponsorship portfolio. So I was among the lucky 63,000 at Ellis Park when Joel Stransky slotted that unlikely drop-goal which won the Springboks their first World Cup.
While that victory ranks as a great rugby upset, Saturday’s crunching 32-12 triumph by Siya Kolisi’s warriors was less so. It was, after all, 12 years since SA’s last win in 2007, so the cycle was perfect. Plus, just like in 1995, a jovial SA national president stood out among besuited VIPs by wearing a replica of his captain’s jersey. With No 6 on the back of course.
Omens aside, Saturday’s milestone also reflected how far Nelson Mandela’s Rainbow Nation has progressed. In 1995’s matchday squad of 21, Chester Williams was the only Black Springbok. Not surprisingly, many South Africans felt a closer affinity with opposition than the Springboks – and publicly displayed it. This time “one nation, one team” was uncontrived.
But areas for reflection remain. Clearly, about rugby, the Young Democracy can learn little from the Oldest. But it can take some guidance on the approach to citizens’ melanin levels. Their best player, Maro Itoje, is simply English. It’s the same with the country’s other athletes, politicians, celebrities and neighbours. They’re a better nation for it. As SA will be.