Theron predicts special era
Dawie Theron (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Baby Boks captain Wiaan Liebenberg, wearing No 6 on his back, lifted the IRB Under-20 World Cup trophy at Newlands on Friday night.
It was a stark reminder of the historic moment when the 1995 Springbok No 6, Francois Pienaar, led the Boks to World Cup triumph.
Following their 22-16 win over New Zealand in the final, the SA Under-20 coach Dawie Theron said that before the match he recalled the only Bok captain to win a World Cup on home soil was Pienaar, and he was tempted to tell the team that it was a good omen that their captain was also wearing number six.
"Before the game I didn't want to say anything for fear of adding to the expectation," said Theron.
"There must be something about the No 6, they seem to be the guys that draw the trophy towards them."
Theron, a former Bok prop, was a highly emotional man after the conquest.
"It's unbelievable. It's the best rugby experience of my life and I've played for the Springboks in 30 Tests but this is very special.
"Words can't describe the feeling. One can see what winning this title meant to the guys, especially after that Ireland loss in our first game when they were burdened with the weight of the nation's expectations on their shoulders.
"Under pressure two things can happen either you scatter apart, or the heat of the moment causes you to gel and you become like a rock and that's what happened.
"It was a wonderful show of typical SA, New Zealand rivalry, and in the first half all the big hits came from them. Our guys came out in the second half and really stood up to the physical contest and there were big hits coming in from our side.
"It was tremendous to see how the guys responded. I can imagine that if these guys stay together, as well as those who couldn't play because of injury, there will be a special era of Springbok rugby ahead.
"The crowd must have been over 35 000 and judging by their support one can say Springbok rugby is alive."
The Cape Town-born and bred flanker Liebenberg savoured the iconic moment by reflecting on the privilege of donning the Springbok jersey.
"It's just a great thing being part of this jersey," said Liebenberg.
"There are so many [players] that have worn this jersey before, and this team is proud to be part of that legacy in South African rugby. This team wanted to tell a story by making history and that's what we did for our country," said Liebenberg.