Avatar photo

By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist


Call to stand together as nation celebrates Boks getting to the semis

South Africa's Siya Kolisi rallied his team to an epic 29-28 win over France, drawing a passionate response from fans nationwide.


At the end of the gruelling 29-28 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal thriller against France at the packed Stade de France, Paris, on Sunday, captain Siya Kolisi said the victorious Bok team owed it to “the people of South Africa”. An overwhelming sea of blue-clad, hostile French supporters in the 80 000-capacity stadium with a sprinkling of Bok fans in green and gold could not dampen the spirit of the resilient South Africans. Professor Sihawu Ngubane of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s faculty of tradition and culture said: “Sports and art are crucial in enhancing unity and friendship in our diverse South…

Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism

Access PREMIUM news, competitions
and exclusive benefits

SUBSCRIBE
Already a member? SIGN IN HERE

At the end of the gruelling 29-28 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal thriller against France at the packed Stade de France, Paris, on Sunday, captain Siya Kolisi said the victorious Bok team owed it to “the people of South Africa”.

An overwhelming sea of blue-clad, hostile French supporters in the 80 000-capacity stadium with a sprinkling of Bok fans in green and gold could not dampen the spirit of the resilient South Africans.

Professor Sihawu Ngubane of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s faculty of tradition and culture said: “Sports and art are crucial in enhancing unity and friendship in our diverse South Africa.

“Sporting codes like rugby, have no colour, but carry a high level of patriotism.

Important to encourage all South Africans to embrace sports

“The government has already realised the essence of sports by creating a ministry that focuses on sport and that is appreciated.

“What is important now is to encourage all South Africans to embrace all sports without attaching race.

“We need to support white-dominated sports equally with soccer and other sporting activities designated for the black community.

“Government support can leverage this initiative further.”

ALSO READ: WATCH: Ramaphosa considers public holiday if Springboks win Rugby World Cup

University of South Africa political science Professor Dirk Kotzé said sport was “a unifying factor in any nation, although not dealing with core problems that citizens grapple with on a daily basis”.

“As sport becomes much more inclusive and diversified, it can play a very important role in creating national unity and common loyalty, solidarity, purpose and understanding,” said Kotzé.

In South Africa, the millions of Bok fans could not miss the opportunity to watch and show their support during the match, broadcast live on giant screens in pubs, taverns, homes and malls.

Glued to the screens during the nail-biting game, South Africans hooted, shouted, screamed and broke into a song in disbelief and appreciation of the hard-earned victory, whether they were in Sandton, Soweto, Alexandra or Kolisi’s township of Zwide.

Win over France reminiscent of 1995

While South Africa faces a semifinal against England on Saturday and a possible final against the All Blacks, the win over France echoed scenes reminiscent of 1995, when the Springboks won the World Cup at Ellis Park for Nelson Mandela.

With South African flags and placards flying high at the end of the showdown, it united the country rallying behind the Boks.

There was some spirited debate on social media, with the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Mbuyiseni Ndlozi taking flack from users of X when responding to author Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, who said the victor was “South Africa continuing the African trend of expelling France”.

Ndlozi said: “A white-dominated team expelling France in Africa – isn’t it just another Anglo-Boer War? Or, are you mobilise us in that fake rainbowism of ‘stronger together’?”

ALSO READ: IN PICTURES: The agony and the ecstasy from Boks’ win against France

Xer Tinyiko MkhuluBae hit back: “That white-dominated team was representing u.”

A Democratic Alliance councillor in eThekwini, Welekazi Ndiweni, said: “You guys don’t have the ability to read the room. The entire country was united behind the #Springboks and Wena you were busy with race-baiting nonsense.”

In hailing the Boks’ win as “a giant step towards Rugby World Cup glory”, President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday conveyed his “warm and proud congratulations – and those of the nation”.

He applauded the 2023 host nation, France, “on a performance that made the encounter in Paris a tense and dramatic game”.

‘We are also together on days when we struggle’

“As a nation, we are proud of the Springboks’ advance to the semifinals in a game that was an incredible athletic display, as well as a metaphor for our country.

“We are, indeed, stronger together when we come together in our diversity and we create opportunities for people to live their passion, fulfil their potential and display their talents.

“But we are also together on days when we struggle…

“Out of the 20 nations in the World Cup, the Springboks delighted and inspired us, whether they were on the field, on the bench or in coaches’ box.

ALSO READ: Boks to take things one step at a time, says Pieter-Steph du Toit

“We wish the Springboks the very best…”

Forgotten at home, were a myriad of socioeconomic challenges: high unemployment, load shedding, potholes, water shortages, rampant crime and corruption.

Catch up with the latest news from The Citizen on WhatsApp by following our channel. To join, click here.

Read more on these topics

France Rugby Rugby World Cup

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits