Springboks Victory Represents Something Greater Than Sport

By Fiona Wakelin

In his letter penned to the nation on October 30, His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa, focused on the Springbok Rugby World Cup victory at the Stade de France and the symbolism of this achievement. President Ramaphosa recalled that South Africa first competed in the Rugby World Cup in 1995, one year after our first democratic elections, when the team included one black player, Chester Williams, while of the squad that played in the past weekend’s final, just short of half were black players, including the team captain, Siya Kolisi. “The journey of the Springboks to historic victory in the 2023 Rugby World Cup is as much about our journey towards nationhood as it is about sporting excellence.

“It is as much about our quest to ensure that representation in all facets of public life, including sport, stands as a potent symbol of the cherished values upon which this country was founded. “The fervent, colourful, and touching displays of national pride from South Africans both at home and abroad during this tournament show that perhaps, as never before, the Springboks have well and truly been embraced by all races as their own,”– President Ramaphosa.

His Excellency shared in the letter that it had been heartwarming to see the nation coming together to support the team and to once again reflect our ability to pull together even when the going gets tough, such as when the country rallied together to overcome the pandemic. President Ramaphosa extrapolated the importance of this coming together to succeed in realms other than sports:

“We are all in this together as government, business, labour, civil society, and citizens. We do not make light of South Africa’s challenges. They cannot be forgotten or wished away by a fleeting moment such as a sporting victory. The Springboks’ win has united us in celebration. It is our hope that it will also serve to inspire the younger generation to derive important life lessons about perseverance, teamwork, discipline, and leadership.

“The interview that Siya Kolisi gave shortly after the team’s win on Saturday will be remembered as one of the most poignant and meaningful from a sportsperson in our country. He spoke about the different backgrounds of the team members and the difficulties they have had to overcome to reach this pinnacle of sporting achievement. ‘You have to be South African to see, feel, and experience the things we do,’ he said.


“This Springbok squad is one of the best rugby teams in the history of the sport. But they are far more than that. They are also great ambassadors for our country and for the values that continue to drive our efforts to build a united, more equal, and prosperous nation,” –H.E. Ramaphosa.

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