It wasn't the victory that it was in 1995 as a new rainbow nation was united in victory in the 3rd Rugby World Cup at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, but the 15-6 defeat of England for the second time in the 6th World Cup in France was well deserved, even though neither team scored a try. Current President Thabo Mbeke was hoisted on the shoulders of the winning team wearing his green and gold team rain jacket. The Stade de France was full of huge, fat, hairy white Springbok fans-and that was just the women!!
35 year old Os Du Randl oom (uncle) was a bull on the pitch at St Denis and announced his international retirement after 13 years,to go back to his farm and children, as did the fair haired full back Percy Montgomery. There was dancing in the streets of Paris, Johannesburg, Soweto, Stellenboch and elsewhere but many have said that South Africa won't win again for a quarter of a century. Coach Jake White has capped 35 new Springboks in the last few years, including 16 non-whites, but it still is a white Africanner sport, played by farmers in small towns, that is the perception.
Sport Minister Dr. Arnold Makhenkesi Stofile has introduced quotas in the provincial sides, who play in the Super 14, five of them alongside the best team from Australia and New Zealand. such as Stormers, Western Cape; Sharks, Durban, Natal; Bulls, Pretoria, Western Transvaal; Cheetas, Free State, while Bryan Habana a colored(mixed race) player was declared World Player of the Year. However, with over 80% of the population black, the racial mix isn't very much, and of course soccer, played overwhelmingly by blacks, has the Bafana, Bafana, the national team, without a non black player. I once met with Stofile at Fort Hare University,(which has produced 3 Nobel Peace Prize winners), and was then in the non white 'homeland' of Ciskei, and talked rugby with him.
If a quota system is brought to the Springboks, who have kept their nickname and badge despite calls for a change many times, the national side is sure to suffer in the short run. It was seen as a tool of apartheid, but the people voted to keep the traditional colours.
England failed to retain the Webb Ellis Trophy but after a lackluster opening victory over USA and humiliating 36-0 loss to the Boks in the opening round, they could draw some consolation from a much improved performance in the final after disposing of Australia and France in the knock-out stages. With up and under kicking up field and too many kicks into touch it was not a pretty final. Just after the interval an idiot ran on to the pitch and even joined in a ruck, until dragged away by security. It was too brief for me to see if it was a drunken Prince Harry, or any number of Belgians I have known.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scot, who almost lost an eye playing rugby, was at the final alongside the Presidents of France and South Africa, and was nice enough to donate £500 for his free ticket to charity. Whether Princes Harry and William and a bunch of rich playboy ex Etonians did the same is not know. After the final they were invited into an exclusive players and families only party at 3.30 am at L'Etoile night club next to the Eiffel Tower and were drinking vodka by the bottle. At the stadium the players showed respect for the referee and there was no arguing with decisions.
The Boks will return to Johannesburg today for a hero's welcome, as the news switches to the FIFA World Cup Draw in late November in Durban, and preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Already people are talking about rampant crime, and last week popular reggae star Lucky Dube, age 43 was gunned down in front of his son as the murderers drove off with his car.
South African Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel has warned of soccer's Robber Barons, leaders of the PSL(Premier Soccer League) including Irvin 'Iron Duke' Khoza millionaire owner of the Orlando Pirates. The 16 team PSL , which has such teams as Kaizer Chiefs, Moroka Swallows, Jomo Cosmos,Sundowns, Cape Town Ajax, Amazulu, Bloemfontain Celtic...., has signed a 5 year deal through the next FIFA World Cup worth $75 million with ABSA Bank, and rumour has it that $7 million will go as a 'thank you' to 5 executive committee member owners. Manuel doesn't want the money to go to these people and has brought the rumour out into the public domain.