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A Little Belief: Rugby World Cup Final

03rd November 2019

“When I was a kid, all I was thinking about was getting my next meal”.  

Siya Kolisi


England 12-32 South Africa


South Africa’s 1995 World Cup win will always be remembered for the unifying image of Nelson Mandela celebrating in a number six Springbok shirt. For all the positive emotions that win generated, though, it was achieved with just one black player in a team of fifteen. Twelve years later South Africa triumphed again, this time with two black players. Slow progress.

This weekend the Springboks extended their winning record in finals to three out of three. As in 1995 the symbol of unity was a black leader in a number six shirt. This time he was captain.

Siya Kolisi was born in a township to parents who were too young and too poor to raise him. In the care of his grandmother, he grew up with nothing. To Kolisi, rugby was a passion and a source of hope. Right now, with a national unemployment rate of 28% and a youth unemployment rate of 55%, hope is something South Africans need. The country has eleven official languages and dozens of indigenous languages in addition. It’s rare for its 58 million people to speak with one voice, but yesterday they had good reason to.

England went into the final as favourites but couldn’t cope with the fire and invention of the Springboks. Never previously troubled in the tournament, they were behind and under pressure throughout and ended up well beaten. It was South Africa’s day from start to finish.  

England take away the memory of outstanding knockout wins over Australia and New Zealand.

Japan take away the memory of a campaign that elevated a nation laid low by natural disaster

South Africa take away the trophy. And in the words of their captain:

“I’m hoping we can give people a little belief that we can come together and make our country better”

Hear hear.



Four years from now, the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the invention of the game by William Webb Ellis at Rugby School in 1823.



England (6) 12

Pens: Farrell (4)

South Africa (12) 32

Tries: Mapimpi, Kolbe

Cons: Pollard (2)

Pens: Pollard (6)


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