The images that South Africa and the all over the globe have seen of the first black captain of the Springboks lifting the Webb Ellis Cup tell a story behind the conquest of the top rugby title and the man that made it all possible.
Among all the accolades and reviews about the South African triumph in the Rugby World Cup there was an editorial by Steve Douglas , published this week in the American daily newspaper “ Washington Post” , that stands out as a perfect perspective of what it meant for the country , beyond the parameters of being a spectacular sports achievement.
The columnist takes us back to the recollections of Nelson Mandela in 1995, wearing the Springbok No. 6 jersey, when South Africa won the first Rugby World Cup, a gesture of unity that changed the mindset of the nation about a sport that was seen by the great majority of South Africans as an exclusive apartheid-era white minority game:
“It was 24 years ago when the Springboks won the title, a year after Mandela became president in a democratic election after decades of racial segregation and his own imprisonment for 27 years”.
Mandela’s decision to choose rugby, as the sport that could bring the nation together towards reconciliation, was his vision and that came to fruition in a non –violent and peaceful political transition.
A quarter of a century later , the wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, scoring the winning tries , confirmed that Mandela was the architect and indeed the instrumental “Coach” of the victory of the new ” Boks” generation .
The background and dramatization of the
events leading to first Word Cup success was superbly documented in the movie “Invictus”,
directed by Clint Eastwood.