If there’s ever been a humbler group of winners at a final whistle than the South Africans at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, then I’d love to have come across them before.
The way the Springboks savoured their moment of victory was inspirational, and aspirational. There was no whooping or hollering at the final whistle like a drunken throng of students at a frat party. Just a whole lot of warm and elated hugs, joyful laughter and beaming smiles of a job perfectly done, and also some silent thanks.
Intriguingly, was the almost measured, dignified celebration a reflection or perhaps outcome of the ironclad self-belief that the genial Rassie Erasmus had instilled in his men?
That the way they acted at the final whistle was just about the final by-product of a whole way of being in their time spent together before and during the tournament? Moreover, by the manner in which Siya Kolisi spoke so much from the heart at the after-match interview, there surely had to be some link that went right through and galvanised the whole squad from quite some time ago.
How good also that Kolisi always has on his back the famous Pienaar/Mandela number six jersey. You can almost imagine Hollywood calling again in a few years wanting a sequel to Invictus. From afar that would seem a bit crass, but at the same time reflect just how brilliant this victory has been.
Life has a funny way of sifting through its own rubble, and yes, perhaps the Boks did get a bit fortunate with the way their draw fell in the knock-out stages, but in the end no-one could surely ever deny that the best team won the 2019 edition of the Rugby World Cup.
Unfortunately for fans here, Ireland, with their hopelessly limp quarter-final display, lulled the All Blacks, and the rest of us besides, into a false sense of security before the England semi-final. The NZ tactics in the semi reflected a belief that the athleticism and skill of the All Blacks would be enough to find a way through the supposedly cumbersome English defensive screens. Strangely enough, it was almost a case of the exact opposite. England were so utterly dominant across every single facet, they rightly could or should have won by twenty plus.
Then in the final, England losing their tighthead prop Sinckler so early was, for all intents and purposes, a fatal blow to their scrum solidity. The resultant Bok scrum dominance was a hugely important factor in their victory, but as well, England in the end were rendered so utterly clueless it seemed safe to pinpoint they had played their final in the semi the week before.
Great kudos and respect to the Springboks and their inspirational leaders. And cheers Faf, for the semi-nude pic with the World Cup- I was able to show my wife that my slighty out-of-condition girth isn’t too bad considering.
And one hundred percent yes- the Boks’ victory did indeed transcend rugby and represent so much more.