Rugby is one of three big sports, together with soccer and cricket. For South Africans rugby is a serious matter, a foundation of bursting pride and joy.
South Africa fared extremely well on world stages, South African fans believe their national team should win every game.
Sport has shown it has the supremacy to reconcile old battles when the SA rugby team, then called the Springboks, won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 on home turf, Nelson Mandela put on the Number 6 jersey of the captain at the time, Francois Pienaar, a white Afrikaner, it melted hearts around SA when they embraced in a spur-of-the-moment gesture of racial understanding. A moment that wiped out the 400 year colonial bitterness for a second.
In the old apartheid South Africa, rugby was considered to be the white man’s game, predominantly the game of the Afrikaners. Traditionally soccer was played by communities of colour.
Since 1994 South Africa the South African Rugby Football Union has aiming to make rugby the game of all South Africans, utilizing an active development programme throughout the country.
Through a quota system, players of colour now have the opportunity to compete at the higher levels of the game, and a rising number are showing that they belong in the highest honour for a South African rugby player.
The Springboks are the national rugby team an international powerhouses and talented South African youngster’s goals are to wear “the green and gold”.
South African players have an outstanding international scoresheet, enjoyed winning records against all other nations. In 1995 the country hosted rugby’s biggest tournament, the World Cup.
The Springboks made it spurred on by their loyal frenzied home crowd where they trumped the All Blacks 15-12. In 1998, a second victory for South Africa ruined New Zealand’s grip on the Tri-Nations.
During the 1997/98 run, South Africa overpowered Australia, France, England, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Italy. Teams regarded as the world’s elite. The Springboks secured all pool matches, defeating Wales, Samoa, Namibia and Fiji.
The annual Tri-Nations competition taking place during July to August, 1996 to 2011 was to decide the top international team, born of a demand for more competition between superpowers after 1995 World Cup success. The three competing countries, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. South Africa won six out of the seven World Cups since 1987, crowned Tri-Nations champions.
In 1996, the Super 12, provincial and regional teams from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand as well as the Tongans and Samoans competed. In 2006 renamed to the Super 14 after two teams added. Since the 1998 Vodacom Cup the Golden Lions won four titles.
The power of sport is expected to patch up old wounds anyone doubting that power can look at the recent history of South African rugby to realise just how potent a force for change this sport can be. South Africa’s history was perfectly portrayed in Invictus in 2009, a film, which starred Matt Damon a Francoise Pienaar and Morgan Freeman as Mandela.
South Africa’s largest stadium is the FNB Stadium which seats up to 94 000 spectators and several other stadiums is scattered around its cities.