by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – MILLIONS of South Africans and other African neutrals will be rooting for the Springboks to win the Rugby World Cup and unite a nation gripped by months of conflict, gender-based violence and economic crisis.
The side will lock horns with England at the 75 000-seater International Stadium Yokohama in Japan on Saturday. The match starts at 11h00 South Africa time.
Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the Presidency, underlines the importance of a Springboks win in the decider.
“Nothing unites a people better than sport, arts and culture,” Mthembu said.
“I’m certain we are all proud of how the Springboks have been showcasing our sports progress in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, having secured South Africa’s spot in the final.”
The Springboks are representing a nation that is reeling from attacks unleashed on foreign nationals, resulting in the death of at least 12 people.
South Africa is also experiencing the scourge of rape of women, among other violent crimes.
Millions of the country’s youths are despondent as it was disclosed this week unemployment was at its highest rate in over 16 years, at 29,1 percent.
Captain Siya Kolisi will be gunning for a third World Cup title following their first success on home soil in 1995 and in 2007 in France. They beat New Zealand and England respectively.
Their maiden win in 1995 is best remembered for uniting a country that was still suffering racial divisions, having attained independence the previous year.
In what has become an iconic moment in the history of the sport, then-president, Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok rugby jersey and baseball cap, presented the trophy to winning captain François Pienaar.
The Springboks, who beat Wales 19-16 in the semifinals, remains South Africa’s most successful team on the world stage.
– CAJ News