Scotland vs South Africa – Springbok legend Bryan Habana proud team truly represent nation


SPRINGBOK legend Bryan Habana has vivid memories of all the three of his nation’s World Cup successes, and says the most recent triumph – two years ago in Japan – has a special place in his heart, because it was the first time the team, with Siya Kolisi as captain, truly represented his nation. 

Habana was an inspired teenage spectator in the crowd when South Africa marched to glory in 1995, went on to become the tournament’s top try-scorer during his nations’ 2007 success, and was restricted to television pundit duties in 2019 but insists that didn’t detract from his enjoyment of the whole experience. 

Speaking earlier this week at an event in Edinburgh to celebrate the work done by the Laureus Sport for Good charity, Havana described the speech he had just given to a group of youngsters from Fife who are taking part in an initiative which aims to use rugby coaching, classroom sessions and mentoring to improve attendance and behaviour at school. 

“I shared the story with the kids about me being a 12-year-old kid sitting in the crowd at Ellis Park on 12th of June, 1995, and not really understanding the rules of the game, not even motivated to consider rugby as a sport,” he recalled. ‘To then be inspired by that group of men, to then hear Francois Pienaar say, when he was handed the Webb Ellis Cup by the iconic Nelson Mandela, that it wasn’t for the 60,000-odd thousand in the stadium, it was for 48 million … that inspired me.  

“I can literally talk about the power of sport to change people’s lives,” he continued. “Twelve years on, I was able to win a World Cup. To then go back and see it on the other side of the coin, to see kids who came from nothing running barefoot behind the bus for a kilometre or two in the Eastern Cape, that was something else.  

“They were running to get a glimpse of their heroes, yes, and to get a glimpse of inspiration. But they were also running to get a glimpse of hope.   

“Both of those experiences were wonderful in their own way, and South Africa winning the World Cup in 2019 was the cherry on the cake, because this was a team that for the first time, post-1994 and our first real free elections, truly reflected what South Africa was all about.  

“Now they could relate to someone like Siya who, when we were winning the World Cup in 2007, was living with his grandmother in a house without even a TV.  

“He had to go watch the final in a shebeen, a rural bar in South Africa, because that was the only place he could watch it.  

‘And it is not just Siya as captain. You had Makazole Mapimpi, who had to walk 10 kilometres to school, 10 kilometres home from school, every day for five years of his life, and all of a sudden he becomes a South Africa rugby player and World Cup winner. 

“To now have this representative team with players who can really speak to 60 per cent of the population, it is so much more tangible than what we had in 2007 or 1995.  

“I think it is beautiful that we’ve seen that transformation happening, with more players coming through and doing things to inspire people.” 

Siya Kolisi will lead the Springboks for the 32nd time in today’s clash against Scotland at Murrayfield this afternoon. Mapimpi is on the left wing. 

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Publish date : 2021-11-12 22:00:03

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