One Quote that gave us a glimpse into the mantra that changed a country.
With all the euphoria of winning the World Cup and hype around our Rainbow Nation being recognized as the best Rugby Team in the world, it becomes easy to get swept away with the feeling of “We have arrived”. And if we really think about it, it should be regarded as the ultimate goal. To win the World Cup, be ranked number 1 in the world, and to have that level of supremacy further recognized by boasting the Best Team Award, Best Coach and, Best Player all swooped up and neatly tucked under our belt. Interesting then to read an article in which Springbok Coach, Rassie Erasmus, is quoted as saying:
“My attention is now drawn to the upcoming tour of the British and Irish Lions in 18 months, and how the team can ensure consistency for the next 4 years.”
In the interview, Rassie Erasmus explains that up until now, the Springboks have won the Rugby World Cup in 12-year intervals (1995, 2007 & 2019), and that for each year after the triumph, the teams’ performance slumped. What really got my cogs moving while reading this emphatic example of leadership and focus, was the time and setting during which Erasmus made these statements. To put things in perspective, Coach Rassie Erasmus had just witnessed his team conquer the world and is still surrounded by all the images and congratulatory messages and hype around his remarkable feat as a coach. However, all of that aside, he still managed to keep his eyes fixed on his overall goal and focus. This gives us a glimpse into something I feel many South Africans may have missed.
When Rassie Erasmus took over the coaching role, he did so at a time when South African rugby was undergoing a massive identity crisis. So much so that all 5 South African franchising sides who take part in the Super Rugby tournament (Rugby Club Tournament between club sides from New Zealand, Australian, South Africa, Argentina, and Japan.) sent their coaching staff on tours to New Zealand to improve their approach to coaching and playing the game. This identity crisis found its way into our club and school rugby in which a more running “New Zealand” style approach was being punted as the new way of playing. Coaching indabas was held to ensure this new style of rugby was bought into and played at all levels. And this led to what many would regards as the darkest days of South African Rugby, to which, unfortunately, Ex-Springbok coach Allister Coetzee receives much of the blame.
Fast forward 18 months and we now celebrate one of the greatest turnarounds in fortunes and performance, but also celebrate one of the most successful springbok sides we have ever witnessed. Most successful you may ask, to which I would respond a resounding yes. The RWC2019 Champions are regarded as the most successful team of all three successful South African RWC Champion Teams given that they are:
- the most diverse team to be ever fielded,
- have managed to face all the major powerhouse teams on their way to the final;
- are the only team to score tries in a final;
- hold the South African record for the biggest margin of win in a final;
- are the only team to ever win the trophy following a loss in the group stages.
Amidst all this huge celebration, heart-swelling in our chests and proudly South African flags beaming across our streets and all over social media, it is easy to overlook the seemingly mundane details while focusing on the big win. And the purpose of this lengthy post is to do my part at drawing focus to it. Our Springbok team has managed to make a whole country proud and helped us to united yet again. And all of that is due to strong leadership, and a rallying call for all South Africans to remember that we are #strongertogether.