Rugby World Cup will unite nation
In 2010, the football World Cup spectacular brought out the best in South Africans.
In 1993, when South African rugby’s strongman, Louis Luyt, spoke about hosting the sport’s World Cup in 1995, there were many who thought he was either overly optimistic or slightly mad.
That was because, at that time, the country was teetering on the edge of what could have been a bloody civil war.
It’s as well to remember that forgotten reality today, as South Africa lobbies to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
However bad things are now, they were worse 25 years ago.
In 1995, the infant “Rainbow Nation” expressed its joy when the Springboks triumphed over the All Blacks in a famous final.
In 2010, the football World Cup spectacular brought out the best in South Africans as we put our differences behind us to welcome the world.
It would be naïve to believe we are in such a harmonious state as a nation as we were in either 1995, or 2010.
We are beset by corruption and maladministration; the gulf between rich and poor seems to be getting wider; and race relations seem to be worsening.
But Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, part of the lobbying team for the 2023 bid, evoked the aura of Madiba to remind the world, and us, that we can soar to great heights.
Our cup bid is brilliant – we have world-class facilities, we will offer a record number of seats, our government has put up financial guarantees – and it will generate billions in revenue and create thousands of jobs.
It will also, in the words of Ramaphosa, “engulf our country, capture a continent and inspire the world”.
More than anything, we need this tournament to remind us that we are capable of rising above our differences and showing that, as a nation, we are much more than the sum of our individual parts.