Arts, Culture & Media

1995 Rugby team united South Africa

JC: I spoke about the capacity that sport has to move people, I was speaking about the Rugby World Cup Final in South Africa in 1995. (Let's talk about that game. The team is the Springboks and sports were huge in South Africa but still segregated. What was the importance of this one game?) The significance is it was the consummation of a 10 year drive by Mandela to win over the whites. Rugby was the love of the whites, and detested by the blacks, a hated symbol of apartheid. So Mandela persuaded the blacks that the Springboks were their team now even though only one player was a brown shade of skin and on the other hand that Mandela was now the president of blacks and whites. On the day of the final against New Zealand, the best team in rugby at the time, Mandela wore the Springbok jersey, and the crowd reacted first with shocked silence and then started chanting his name. So Mandela both abolished apartheid and united the country. (The Springboks then won.) Yes, it was a nail biting game and Mandela loved the game. Then when he went onto the field afterwards, the whole crowd chanted his name again and it united the country. (Was this real change?) Yes, because when Mandela became president, there were a lot of tensions and he soothed those tensions.

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