Chester: Write off Boks at own peril

2015-05-26 21:00
Chester Williams (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Springbok legend Chester Williams has warned that teams write off South Africa at their own peril ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England in September.

Williams, a member of South Africa's 1995 World Cup-winning rugby team, was speaking at a coaching clinic hosted by Emirates Airlines at Ellis Park for children of the John Mitchell Primary School on Tuesday.

"When they write us off - that is when we are at our most dangerous - and that is when South Africans get together and start working for each other," Williams said at the arrival of the Webb Ellis Cup in Johannesburg.

"We haven’t been good over the last year, but normally when that happens, we win the World Cup considering what happened with the team under Jake White.

"Before that, we had to build a team to be successful, Kitch Christie took over a team that lost against England in 1994, we went on tour in New Zealand where we could only draw against them in Auckland."

Williams was back at the venue where the Springboks famously beat the All Blacks 15-12 following a Joel Stransky drop goal in extra time 20 years ago.

The final is still fresh in his mind as people constantly asked him about his experience in the game while they recall where they were on that day.

"It feels like yesterday and it will probably be one of the World Cups people will always talk about because of the circumstances in the country at the time and Apartheid," he said

"The Springbok team and Nelson Mandela getting together to unite the country through a tournament.

"People think it happened in the final but it happened before that, with us going to coaching clinics in Khayelitsha and Soweto, and from there with Nelson Mandela supporting the team."

As the only non-white member of the team, Williams believed South African rugby had made good progress in terms of transformation of the sport but had more work to do.

"There is no way that we can say that we’ve done enough (in terms of transformation) because there is so much work to do and it is only 20 years after we’ve become a democratic country," Williams said.

"It is a work in progress and we need to work on it every day, every week, every month and every year."

He said there were real examples of transformation happening in rugby with black players not merely being selected on the wing but were given opportunities in other positions.

"There has been progress with regards to selection of teams, there aren’t just wings on the rugby field, but props, centres and flyhalves, so there is change," he said.

"If you look at the Stormers last week, 10 of the 23 players were so-called black players and nobody spoke about it.

"That is the nice thing because it means it is becoming natural to everyone and from now on people will select the team the way it is."


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