The Springbok Rugby World Cup victory in the 2019 edition hosted by Japan has provided hope for a nation desperate to have something to celebrate.
Springbok Rugby World Cup Victory
Any country that wins a World Cup will claim that it is important for their country to do so. For South Africa, it is more so. Problems are larger than Faf kicks too much and Willie can’t catch the ball.
Racial disharmony is still prevalent. The country continually faces downgrades from international rating agencies. A weak currency makes life difficult, let alone keeping top quality rugby players in the system. Electricity blackouts are a fact of life. Water restrictions are in place in many provinces. High unemployment means many millions of South Africans live in poverty. This included the Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, in his youth.
Hope to change your life
Siya Kolisí’s story is truly inspirational. The video below is only a small part of his history, but shows his life has been a real rags to riches affair. The step up from a very poor household to standing on the top step of an international sport still remains a rarity. Kids in that position don’t have the financial resources to purchase to the most basic of kit or to attend the strong rugby schools. Kolisi’s journey has been a one-in-a-million story, but it is a shining example for others to have the hope to change their lives. Put the hard work in and you never know. How many more Siya Kolisi’s are out there in South Africa?
The Springboks do have a few more players who have not followed the traditional rugby school route to the top of the sport. Another one of those is wing Makazole Mapimpi. He shared his story with Last Word on Rugby in this interview in 2017. After an opportunity at age group of level with the Border Bulldogs went nowhere, his career seem consigned to amateur club rugby. After a few years at this level, he was recalled to the Bulldogs senior team. He was then noticed by the Southern Kings, who contracted him to play Super Rugby. After a move to the Sharks, he proved he should be considered for higher honours and was selected for the Springboks. A total of six made him the second highest try scorer at Rugby World Cup 2019. Another life changed.
The Springboks have given many South Africans hope for the future, irrespective of their current social standing.
Hope to change circumstances
Springbok downward spiral
Two years ago, if you offered most Springbok fans a semi-final at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, they would have bitten your hand off to get that opportunity. The Springboks were in a really bad space, losing more often than they were used to. Their play was limited and mostly uninspiring. Squad development did not appear to be much of a priority. This is where SA Rugby made a decision. Turn the whole thing around by replacing most of the coaching staff and to allow Rassie Erasmus his request to select players based in Europe. Erasmus was employed to be SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, but ended up including the Springbok Head Coach job to his responsibilities.
The first change was one of priorities, as revealed by Springbok captain Siya Kolisi:
“From the very first meeting in Johannesburg, Coach Rassie was very straightforward,” said Kolisi.
“He said we were getting quite a lot of money and doing lots of things off the field, but we didn’t make rugby the main thing.
He told us straight; it has to change, the shift has to come, rugby is more important; the Springboks are more important than our personal goals and as soon as the team does well good things will come.” Quote credit: SA Rugby.
The belief that this team has in each other has been a pleasure to watch and is comparable only to the All Black team culture.
They changed their circumstances of 2017 to create their new reality of Rugby World Cup champions.
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 3, 2019
Rewards for changing those circumstances
The World Rugby Awards event on Sunday proved to be very profitable for the Springboks:
Rugby World Cup Winners 2019
Coach of the year: Rassie Erasmus
Team of the year: South Africa
World Player of the Year: Pieter-Steph du Toit
Hope to overcome obstacles
This Springbok squad, like a few others, has had a number of obstacles thrown in their path. Aphiwe Dyantyi didn’t even make it to the airport. He failed a routine out of competition drugs test. They lost two of their regular match-day 23 squad members to injury – Trevor Nyakane and Jessie Kriel. There was the unwanted media attention around the allegations involving Eben Etzebeth.
The Springboks overcame this by focusing on the positive support and messages that they were receiving from back home in South Africa.
Springbok Rugby World Cup Victory
The Springboks have given South Africans something to celebrate. Few believed that they could pull this off, but they did.
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