Go, go... South Africa!

NO APOLOGIES here. The Springboks have lived up to their name and done the African continent proud.

By Joyce Njeri

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Tue 23 Oct 2007, 8:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:32 AM

According to Oxford Dictionary, a springbok is a Southern African gazelle with a characteristic habit of leaping when disturbed. It's normally gentle but when pushed to the corner, it can lunge its opponents viciously with its branch-like horns.

So when our lads leaped on to the Stade de France resplendent in their characteristic green and golden colours on Saturday night, they looked brutal and couldn't accept anything less than a win. Now, the Webb Ellis Cup has gone to it's rightful home, Africa.

To the English team, sorry, you can have one on me to cool off. And to Jake White, the Springboks coach and John Smit the captain, you deserve the utmost credit. With a clean and clear margin of 15-6, South African team proved to be the undisputed king of battle of brutality.

The country, which also won at home in 1995, now joins Australia as a two time champion. Jake White has handled the huge pressure of the job with remarkable dignity. There is no harder job in rugby than coach of South Africa, because not only are you supposed to win, you are supposed to bind together so many different cultures and satisfy so many different agendas, given the fact that this is a country that has had a dramatic history in its struggle with Apartheid. Perhaps White's greatest strength is his nature. He is an open-minded and inclusive man who has brought a sense of togetherness to these boks.

South Africa has won previous games at this World Cup through the brilliance of their strike runners, and those who watched the match I believe you agree that the game was about rigidity and direct clean rugby. Despite having crowd advantage, England was made to eat humble pie.

Thousands of fans from UK used all manner of travel, air, sea and underground to get to Paris and you could almost notice the high confidence exhibited by both young and old alike as they trooped to the French city to cheer on their boys. But as they say, every (under) dog has its day.

And as South Africa prepares to host the 2010 Word Cup Championships, the first time it will be held on the African continent, we can only get better. Two weeks ago in this column I wrote about how rich countries are poaching good African players thereby denying the continent a chance to grow its sports. I was inundated by both love and hate mail with overwhelming responce supporting the fact that bucks come first then patriotism second.

One particular reader had the temerity to say that Africa lacks the capacity to support and pay good talent, and that's the reason many players were taking flight to join international rich teams. But Saturday's game clearly demonstrated that it may be a more meaningful symbol of what is possible if we believe in trust and fairness and finding the right people to do the job. It indeed may just have a longer lasting effect.

The match saw South Africa being the dominant team, as it won the ball on England's first two throws. In between, the English lads drove the Springboks back in the first scrum. The boks hero was Percy Montgomery, who booted all four of his penalty attempts. If you're a rugby scrummer (hard core fan) like me, you can remember that this is the same guy who eclipsed Jonny Wilkinson, the hero of England's victory in the final four years ago.

But this time round, all odds were stacked against him. Wilkins, as he's fondly known back home, had again made key kicks under pressure to earn unlikely victories over Australia and France in the quarterfinal and semifinal. But against a tough South African defence that yielded almost no penalties, he only had two chances, succeeding with both but he missed with two drop goal attempts.

Butch James, the Springboks fly half, chipped the ball over the English defence, chased and was blessed with a bounce that brought the ball back into his hands. Wilkinson quickly retaliated with a kick from the right sideline. Three minutes later, Montgomery restored the lead. South Africa led for the rest of the game.

Well, it is hard to be critical of England. They played the game that they had to but many would agree that South Africa were the better side. And as the boys jet back to Johannesburg this morning, confetti, drinks and more drinks will flow as excitement reverberates across the continent. You've done us proud boks, cheers.

Joyce Njeri is a Sub Editor with Khaleej Times. She can be reached at joyce@khaleejtimes.com

More news from