Rugby's ultimate prize: Views from 3 RWC-winning Springbok captains

2020-05-13 17:05
Siya Kolisi and Cyril Ramaphosa (Getty Images)
Siya Kolisi and Cyril Ramaphosa (Getty Images)

South Africa's three Rugby World Cup-winning captains have recalled what the moment lifting Webb Ellis Cup meant to them.

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Francois Pienaar (1995), John Smit (2007) and Siya Kolisi (2019) are three South Africans amongst an elite group of eight men who have experienced the joy of lifting rugby's ultimate prize on behalf of their team-mates.

In interviews with World Rugby, the trio recalled the respective heroic moments.

For Pienaar, whose Boks beat the All Blacks 15-12 in the 1995 final at Ellis Park, the overriding memory as he collected the trophy from South Africa President Nelson Mandela was one of relief.

"You know there is so much at stake. The tension was unique because you either end that week as a world champion or not.

"The enduring memory is a feeling of absolute relief. In a Rugby World Cup final, you don’t care how you do it or who does it, you don’t care about the margin, you just want to be ahead on the scoreboard after 80 minutes.

"When you look up and see that, and you know nobody can take that from you, it is the most wonderful feeling. It was insane, incredible... Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the impact it would have on our country," Pienaar concluded.

Smit, whose charges beat England 15-6 in the final in Paris in 2007, credited a team effort.

"We had the responsibility of carrying the hopes of a nation on our shoulders... dreams come true.

"It's hard to let it sink in. I'm proud of every single one of the guys. There's going to be a lot of stories told as we get older, but no-one can take it away from this group."

Kolisi, who led the Boks to a 32-12 final win over England in Yokohama last year, expressed how much winning the tournament meant to his country as a whole.

"I am just grateful for everything the team has been through, we have faced a lot of challenges. But the people of South Africa have got behind us, and we are so grateful to them.

"We have so many problems in our country but with a team like this - we come from different backgrounds and different races - we came together with one goal.

"I really hope we have done that for South Africa, to show that we can pull together if we want and achieve something. Since I have been alive, I have never seen South Africa like this."

- Compiled by Sport24 staff


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Debate rages! Who is the greatest ever Springbok hooker ... John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis or someone else perhaps?

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