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80 min to unite a nation

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If Rassie and his boys could do it, who am I to not have faith. It happened in 1995 and the nation was united

South African captain Siya Kolisi holds the Webb Ellis Cup aloft together with President Cyril Ramaphosa after the Boks' punishing victory over England in the Rugby World Cup final thriller at the International Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday. Christophe Ena AP African News Agency (ANA)

NORMALLY I have a lot to say about everything and everybody. Today, however, I am struggling to find words.

I see myself as someone who isn’t too easily intimidated – and that just 23 men can do that to me and then render me speechless that takes some doing. Oh, add to that 23 HOT young men sigh

I think by now you know who I’m (trying) to talk about – the formidable Bokke!

I have to be totally honest here and ashamedly admit that I didn’t think our boys could do it. I told a family member on Saturday morning before kick-off that I would call him after the match to basically tell him, “I told you so.”

I had that same feeling before they faced Japan.

Japan were really a surprise package at this Rugby World Cup and I think this is just the start for them.

They are definitely a team to watch and come the next World Cup they may just be the team to beat.

Then when England all but obliterated the All Blacks and add, too, that South African sportsmen have the reputation of not having big-match temperament and choke on the big stage – my faith was at just about zero.

I might not have had much faith, but I was still hoping – just maybe they could pull it off.

Watching the first half when the boys started showing their strength in the scrums – considering England’s pack was heavier than ours – my faith started returning.

Our ‘tiny’ boys were showing their huge hearts and standing up to the much ‘bigger boys’ – how could I not believe in our boys?

Here 23 players were doing it for 57 million people – for a nation, for people they did not even know – that definitely tugs on the heartstrings.

I watched a post-match interview with the Bok coach, Rassie Erasmus.

In this interview Rassie said that the team started talking about what pressures there are in South Africa. “In South Africa pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives being murdered. In South Africa there’s a lot of problems which is pressure and we started talking about things like that and rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure on you. Rugby should be something that creates hope.

“We started talking about how we’ve got a privilege of giving people hope, not a burden of giving people hope. But hope is not talking about hope and saying you’ve got hope and tweeting a beautiful tweet and things like that.

“Hope is when you play well and people watch the game on a Saturday and they have a nice braai and watch the game and feel good afterwards.

“No matter your political or religious differences, or whatever, for those 80 minutes you agree with a lot of things you’d normally disagree about. We just started believing in that and saying that is not our responsibility, that’s our privilege to try and fix those things.

“And the moment you see it in that way it becomes a hell of a privilege and you start working towards that, I think that’s the way we tackled this whole World Cup campaign,” he said.

If Rassie and his boys could do it, who am I to not have faith. It happened in 1995 and the nation was united.

This could not have come at a better time either. The country needed it.

Hell I needed it.

Thank you, Rassie, thank you Bokke for bringing us together again.