Cape Town - Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, earmarked for his tantalising maiden experience of a World Cup final against England on Saturday, has already left in little doubt that he vividly recalls where he was for South Africa’s last appearance in the showpiece against the same foes in 2007.
When John Smit’s side hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup in Paris on October 20 that year, courtesy of a hard-fought 15-6 triumph, a then 16-year-old Kolisi says he was watching in a Zwide, Eastern Cape tavern, considering that there was no television in his modest home at the time.
The Boks are likely to field one survivor from that memorable conquest, on the assumption that veteran utility back Frans Steyn is again in the match-day 23 in Yokohama on Saturday (11:00) - he had started the 2007 final at inside centre, then a 20-year-old wunderkind.
Without knowing specifically where all of them would have watched the RWC 2007 showpiece from, here is a more general reminder of where the whole Bok starting XV from the victorious semi-final against Wales on Sunday were in their lives, around the time of that final a dozen years ago ...
Willie le Roux (then 18): The Paul Roos product was on the cusp of freedom from schooling, and already coaxed into the Western Province youth systems net; it would be three more years before his first-class debut … for neighbours Boland Cavaliers in 2010.
S’bu Nkosi (then 11): He was at junior school in his town of Barberton in Mpumalanga, and still five years short of recognition for the Pumas at the Grant Khomo U16 Week.
Lukhanyo Am (then 13): The Bok midfielder from Zwelitsha would probably have been contemplating imminent high schooling at nearby De Vos Malan High in King William’s Town.
Damian de Allende (then 15): He was a pupil at reasonably unfashionable Milnerton High in Cape Town - and still five years shy of representing Ikey Tigers in the 2012 Varsity Cup.
Makazole Mapimpi (then 17): The flying wing was at Jim Mvabasa Senior Secondary School in the King William’s Town district, and not too far off recognition for Border U19 two years later, in 2009.
Handre Pollard (then 13): The flyhalf would have been on the brink of his high schooling at Paarl Gimnasium, although his special rugby talent had clearly already been spotted: that year he had made the WP U13 Craven Week squad.
Faf de Klerk (then 16): He had only blown out the candles a day earlier in his 16th-birthday cake, so the Bok final success was simply an additional, blissful gift. De Klerk was at Waterkloof High in Pretoria, and just been made part of the Blue Bulls youth systems.
Duane Vermeulen (then 21): It was the year Vermeulen shifted from the Pumas to the Cheetahs, to really begin his domestic “visibility” in many senses. It still seems unfathomable, in retrospect, that his Test debut would only come five years later in 2012, though.
Pieter-Steph du Toit (then 15): A pupil at Swartland High in Malmesbury, he was four years short of being snapped up as a promising youngster by the Sharks - and, one year further onward (2012), a triumphant member of SA’s then-IRB Junior World Championship-winning team.
Siya Kolisi (then 16): Presumably on a weekend break from PE’s Grey High School when he watched the game in the township tavern, he was being raised by his grandmother Nolulamile at the time, his mother having died a year earlier. His own mini-triumph in that landmark 2007 was entering the EP Kings’ youth plans.
Lood de Jager (then 14): The lanky lock would either have started already or been about to tackle high school at Hugenote (Springs). He was still four years short of Leopards youth rugby involvement.
Eben Etzebeth (then 15): Nine days short of his 16th birthday, the lock meanie would have been at Tygerberg High and some four years short of first nationwide TV exposure, playing for Ikey Tigers in the Varsity Cup.
Frans Malherbe (then 16): He was at Paarl Boys’ High, who he would later lead to first-team success in the big derby against “Gimmies”, although it would require one more World Cup cycle, to the 2011 year, for him to earn debuts for both WP and the Stormers.
Bongi Mbonambi (then 16): The feisty hooker was at St Alban’s College in Pretoria, and had just hooked up with the Griffons at youth level.
Tendai Mtawarira (then 22): Now a record-breaking Sharks servant, the popular Bok loosehead prop had made his Super Rugby debut that 2007 year, while it would only be a few months onward (June 2008) when he debuted for South Africa - the first of currently 116 caps.
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