The World Cup promise of 1995, partly kept
The Springboks have again played to glorious victory — but in front of a ‘home crowd’ on foreign turf
As spring knocks on the door and the sun shines down on the lucky country, it feels almost as if it could be 1995 all over again.
That year, as the UK baked under a brutally hot summer, South Africa, in its first post-democracy Rugby World Cup, took home the trophy, thanks to Joel Stransky’s sublime last-second boot at Ellis Park.
Last Friday the Springboks, starting with Siya Kolisi blasting over the line in the 19th minute at Twickenham Stadium in London, gave the country a glimmer of the same delirium that swept through South Africa 28 years ago.
Of course, we have never really been forgiven for the Kiwi-rattling pageantry of the day — Madiba in a Bok shirt, the SAA 747 swooping over the stadium almost low enough for its engines to ingest all of Hillbrow’s pigeons in one pass, the thunder of a wildly amped home crowd.
We were on the up and up, and our future felt as golden as Stransky’s boot
It felt as if nothing could stop the lucky country. That after a long, dark nightmare, we were on the up and up, and our future felt as golden as Stransky’s boot.
Three decades on, even as the team’s fortunes have risen and fallen, the Springboks have given us a reminder — and for some people a first taste — of what it felt like to be South African in 1995, except this time, after a stunning 35-7 demolition of the All Blacks, on foreign turf.
It was a full house at Twickenham on Friday — 81,000 people and many of them in green shirts (“hordes” of them, said The Guardian) and the prematch air was thick with braai smoke.
That the Springboks played to their “home crowd” in England is a reminder that the promise of 1995 has not been kept. Maybe next time, then.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.