Celebrations that greeted the team in Soweto, Langa and Zwide townships are encouraging signs that rugby can be a sport for all
THE Rugby World Cup trophy tour ended in Cape Town yesterday after a roller-coaster week that took the victorious Springboks to five cities.
Fans painted the streets green and gold to welcome and cheer the world champions with each visit.
The colourful parade of the glittering Webb Ellis trophy was the perfect cherry on top to celebrate the Rassie Erasmus-coached outfit’s 32-12 demolition of England in the final in Japan on November 2.
Siya Kolisi becoming the first black captain to lift the World Cup must not be an opportunity lost for the sport to use in shedding the unwanted tag of being viewed as a predominantly white game littered with racial undertones.
Celebrations that greeted the team in Soweto, Langa and Zwide townships are encouraging signs that rugby can be a sport for all.
And if the story of Kolisi is not inspiration enough, South Africa need not look further than history-making winger Makazole Mapimpi.
Born and raised in a rural part of the Eastern Cape, Mapimpi beat the system to not only win a world champion medal, but also to become the first Springbok to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final.
In fact, the speedy winger scored a remarkable six tries in the tournament.
He summed up what his amazing feat meant to those coming from less privileged backgrounds.
“This is a big achievement, not just for me, but for people who come from a similar background. This is not only about me. I love playing rugby, but we are trying to do a lot more with this team.”
Such is the power of sport.
We are not so naive as to suggest that sport can solve all our problems overnight. However, we stand resolute that such great achievements must be celebrated and used as springboards to chase that long-cherished dream of a Rainbow Nation. Besides its unifying power, the sport has grown to become a serious career option.
It is of paramount importance that parents desist from crushing the dreams of children that want to pursue a professional career in sport. It is possible to make a decent living from rugby, soccer, cricket, netball and athletics, to mention just a few codes.
Beast Mtawarira, Caster Semenya, Mapimpi, Kolisi, Percy Tau and Kagiso Rabada are stand-out success examples of young men and women that have carved decent sporting careers.