Cup of Hope
In my 25 years of living, I have seen Joel Stransky's 1995 Rugby World Cup drop goal countless times. The crowd, Mandela, the airplane, the faces of the 1995 squad. In a way it was always bittersweet watching that final moment. I could never join in on that conversation, as I was about one year old. And yes, I am aware that there was a 2007 win, but I was thirteen and we all know there were bigger things happening at that time (namely puberty and making it out alive of primary school - shame). So 2019 had to be the year, and boy, was it THE YEAR...
Since coach (king) Rassie took over the reins from Allister Coetzee, I knew something big was coming. The cool, calm and collected coach knew that he had all the talent and skill needed in a team to win the World Cup. He gathered the best players, from the ends of the earth (literally), young guns and experienced veterans, and put together a team that changed the landscape of rugby and yet again inspired a nation to be better and stand together!
Rassie Erasmus did not only manage to get the team to believe in themselves, but to believe in something greater - their country and the hope of a nation. Now please, to all the glass-is-half-empty kind of pessimistic people, no one ever said that rugby could pull the country out of its junk status, curb corruption, nor will it eradicate the racists and misogynists, but it CAN pull together the glass-is-half-full kind of people. It CAN inspire a nation to participate and invest in activities where they interact with people from all walks of life, get to know them and love them as brothers. I mean, if we cannot hold on to this one great thing, along with other recent sporting victories (SA Netball winning Africa Cup and Gerda Steyn qualifying for the Olympics, to name but a few), WHAT CAN WE POSSIBLY HOLD ON TO THEN? Actually, if you are not even a bit inspired or that guy bringing others down, you need a time out man (we see you Johan and you, Mr Ndlozi). Sport, not only rugby, has the ability to bring people together in ways that politics fail to do. Tata Madiba knew very well what he was talking about when he said that sport has the ability to change the world.
Let me grace you with a few jaw-dropping stats from the 2019 Rugby World Cup: There were 1.7 billion digital video views, 2 million Euro raised for the ChildFund Pass it Back, and a whopping total of 437 billion Yen injected into the Japanese economy. The Japanese team was the first Asian team to reach the quarter finals of a Rugby World Cup, after defeating both Scotland and Ireland, who was one of the initial contenders for the cup. I don't know about you, but I think the Japanese nation managed to inspire the entire world with their top class hospitality, their love for and investment in rugby and how it has paid off for them. No tier 2 nation has done what Japan managed to pull off in this World Cup.
Anyway, back to our champs, I salute them. It is not the easiest of tasks to come from the bottom of the favorite list, and the ranks for that matter, to winning the final with a margin no one could predict!
Just before the final, I tweeted: "Not ONE prediction online in favor of South Africa. How I’m going to love that upset tomorrow". It was more than an upset. It was a dream come true for South Africans, it was a dream come true for me, that unbelievable moment when Pollie put the ball in the stands, and the score said 32-12.
Keep dreaming SA. Things really aren't all bad.
Until next time, 2023, in France, where I will be broadcasting from, live (a girl can dream).