South Africa’s World Cup Victory
The cry of a nation united in victory could be heard echoing across the country as the final whistle of the Rugby World Cup final blew in Paris, France, on 20 October 2007. All over South Africa the streets, homes, pubs and bars were drowning in a river of green and gold; in jubilation, pride and elation over South Africa’s World Cup victory over the defending champions, England. It was not only a breathtaking moment in the history of South African rugby, but a heartfelt, emotional moment for each and every South African Springboks supporter.
The stage was set at Stade de France, for one of the greatest and most memorable rugby clashes of our time. As the Webb Ellis Trophy stood alongside the field, the crowds in the stadium and across the world held their breath as the teams walked onto the field in anticipation of the test of strength, skill and determination that was about to unfold in front of their eyes. The English team comprised of Phil Vickery (as captain of the squad), Jason Robinson, Mathew Tait, Paul Sackey, Mark Regan, Mike Catt, Simon Shaw, Jonny Wilkinson, Andrew Sheridan, Mark Cueto, Lewis Moody, Andy Gomarsall, Martin Corry, Nick Easter and Ben Kav. As replacements the English had Toby Flood, Matt Stevens, Joe Worsley, Danny Hipkiss, George Chuter, Peter Richards and Lawrence Dallaglio waiting in the wings. Captain John Smit led the Springboks, comprising of Jacques Fourie, Os du Randt, Bakkies Botha, Bryan Habana, CJ van der Linde, Juan Smith, Danie Roussouw, Butch James, JP Pietersen, Francois Steyn, Schalk Burger, Percy Montgomery and Victor Matfield, onto the field. As replacements for the game South Africa had selected Johannes Muller, Bismarck de Plessis, Andre Pretorius, Wickus van Heerden, Jannie du Plessis, Wynand Olivier and Ruan Pienaar.
After the anthems of both countries were sung, the whistle was blown and eighty minutes of nerve ending rugby kicked off, keeping both the Springboks and England supporters glued to their screens, and undoubtedly on the edge of their seats. The first half of the game ended with South Africa leading by nine points to three, as Percy Montgomery showed his experience and skill with kicking South Africa into a six point lead. In the second half, the English managed to tear through the iron defense of the Springboks and make it to the try line, but unfortunately for Mark Cueto, it was determined that he had been in touch before setting the ball down over the try line and subsequently the try was not awarded. Montgomery and Francois Steyn increased the lead of the South African squad to fifteen and Wilkinson brought England’s score to six points. But it was South Africa that walked away as the World Cup winners with a final score of 15-6.
South Africa’s World Cup Victory was symbolic in many ways. For one day, the entire country stood together as one. Race, religion and economic status were forgotten. As green and gold rose from the suburbs, townships and every walk of life, problems from everyday life were lost in song, dance and celebration as the Springboks’ victory transformed every South African into a World Cup champion.