We want to celebrate Nelson Mandela by telling the incredible happenings of the final of the Rugby World Cup 1995
Johannesburg, 24 June 1995.
South Africa was at the time still deeply signed by its recent history of apartheid, racial segregation and inequality.
The human rights’ fighter Nelson Mandela, depicted by the white power as a terrorist, was kept in jail for 27 years for his ideas, before being released in 1990 and elected as the first South Africa’s black president in the first ever country’s multiracial democratic elections in 1994.
One year later, after being excluded from the first two editions of the Rugby World Cup, following the negotiations to end apartheid, South Africa was hosting the competition, leading to a moment that would have changed history through sport.
The final was happening in Ellis Park: the home team of the Springboks was set to face New Zealand’s All Blacks, starring legendary captain Jonah Lomu, and was not given any chance to conquer the final victory.
Rugby was considered a sport exclusive for the elite of the white people, and the black community was cheering for the opposition, but Mandela understood the importance of the “Rainbow Nation” standing united to support the Boks.
Mandela entered the stadium wearing the green and gold Springbok jersey and cap in front of a crowd of 63.000 people, 62.000 of which were white. It took some time, but in the end they all were singing with the same voice, carrying the home team to make impossible come true, winning 15-12 the final thanks to a drop goal in the extra time scored by Joel Stransky.
Those facts inspired a famous book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation” by John Carlin, and the 2009 movie by Clint Eastwood “Invictus”.
“It was not 63.000 people, it was 42 millions people cheering for us”, said Francois Pienaar, the captain of the team, depicted in an historical picture with Mandela and the cup.
When the final whistle blew, that country was changed forever.
A story of #equality, #courage, #respect, and #belief.