The 2nd of November 2019 was a very special day for us South Africans. Our national rugby team, “The Springboks” won the rugby world cup that was hosted in Japan, defeating England 32-12 in the final match. For those of you who know South Africa will know just how much we love rugby and so when our national team was able to lift the coveted cup for the third time, the whole nation rejoiced in unison.
Now winning the world cup is no mean feat, but when you take into account that 18 months before the start of the world cup when new head coach, Rassie Erasmus, took over, the Springboks were ranked 7th in the world, their lowest ever ranking in their history. We now start to comprehend just how remarkable this achievement was.
The transformation under head coach Rassie Erasmus was almost immediate as an improvement in the team’s performances was evident in Rassie’s first series of matches as Head Coach. He elected Siya Kolisi as his captain, the first-ever black man to be elected as captain of the Springboks. He also started putting the most diverse team, with regards to ethnicity, background, etc. that the South African public had ever seen. Fast forward 18 months and they were world champions. Amazing!
Now looking at this miracle of a turnaround in performances by the Springboks we can say that this was the influence of a greater power or whatever we tend to tell ourselves when seemingly impossible things happen. But the answer to many people’s question of how the Springboks were able to do this was answered in the post-match press conference of that final game where Rassie and Siya answered the media’s questions.
Erasmus told the press that his team members were not under pressure, he said, “We talked about what pressure is, in South Africa pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives being murdered. There are a lot of problems in South Africa – which are real pressure. Rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure, rugby should be something that creates hope.” He went on to say, “We’ve got the privilege of giving people hope, not the burden of giving hope. Hope isn’t something you talk about, or tweet about.”
Erasmus added: “Hope is when you play well and people watch on Saturday at a nice barbeque and feel good after, no matter your political differences, or your religious differences.
“The moment you see it that way, it becomes a hell of a privilege – and that’s how we tackled this whole World Cup campaign.”
After hearing this it is clear to see why the Springboks were able to reach this incredible achievement. Friedrich von Schiller said, “Even the weak become strong when they are united” and as Publilius Syrus says, “Where there is unity there is always victory”.
The Springboks were unified under a great and mighty and therefore they were victorious, nothing was going to stop them. Never underestimate what you and your teams can achieve when you are unified and all are committed to your purpose as a team.