Dawn broke this morning with South Africa the new world champions of rugby. Twelve long years after they won it the first time triumphantly in 1995, they beat England last night 15-6 in the finals of the Rugby World Cup, to once more claim rugby glory on the world stage. It was a proud moment, filled with much of the emotions that I had as a teenager the last time I experience my country win this prestigious event.
My hope is that South Africa will experience the same unity and euphoria it did when it first won the World Cup. For a while, it seemed as if there were no more black, white or brown South Africans. We were are just proud South Africans.
Being in Malaysia, 6 hours ahead of the action in France, we had to wait until 3am to watch the game. We managed to gather 6 die-hard fans and Bob & Sue graciously opened their home to us for an early morning screening. Our night started quite early though as we gathered at just after 8 for our potluck (bring-and-braai concept, except no braai) dinner. After some additional preparations by our hosts, we finally sat down to eat at roughly 9.30pm and proceeded to stuff ourselves with a varied selection of different dishes contributed by our mixed party.
Our celebrations kicked off shortly afterwards when we started the festivities at Becky’s birthday party. It was held at Rumba, a Latin American themed bar at Le Meridiene Hotel. The girls were partying hard already and we joined them for a couple of hours. I had a chat with Louren, Gavin and Roger, between them New Zealand (born, English bred), Irish and British respectively, but they unanimously felt that, even though they didn’t support the Springboks, that the Springboks were the likely winners.
We returned to our lair of Rugby and had some drinks and chat before, one by one, our group of supporters succumbed to the wee hours of the morning and the desire to sleep. The last to be awake, Julia and I, we decided to let them sleep for the 40 minutes we had left to wait before the start of the game.
At the same time across the world, blog entries were going up in anticipation of the game. The Rugby Blog had an entry shortly before the game started, obviously an England supporter, worrying about the pressure the South African supporters were putting on his team. And this blog, no prizes for guessing where his loyalties lie. Check out the post about how to greet an Englishman. The SA Rugby Blog had this to say yesterday, but haven’t updated yet as they obviously went out partying after that game.
Then, when the pre-game started we got everyone up except Sue, who would continue to hibernate right through the final. The only South African thing we had on hand (no flags, no hats, no shirts, geez, send me some Springbok paraphernalia, please!) was Geoffrey the Giraffe. Yes, a stretch, but he was a mascot well worth having.
The game itself was full of controversy. The main referee was Irish, and he will no doubt get loads of flames for the way he wielded his whistle and applied the rules. There were to contentious penalties in South Africa’s favour, which, although not incorrect, exposed some inconsistencies on the Ref’s part.
Most controversial moment of the game though was when the young Tait blazed a trail through the over-grown jungle vines that were the South African defense, to find himself near the goal line. He handed the ball to Mark Cueto who went for the goal line ears back, only to be taken down by Danie Rossouw who swept him into touch at the same time he planted the try. After a very long analysis of the action by the 4th umpire and several replays from various angles, they deemed his left foot to have been in touch at the time he controlled the ball behind the goal line.
The thousands of English fans in the crowd made their displeasure known, and, for at least the next four years, that incident will be what English fans will hold up in their defense whilst they explain their side’s loss against South Africa.
But contravirsy aside, the English captain, the coach and the players have said, and it was obvious for anyone watching to see, that South Africa was the dominant side. Not only did they spend the majority of their time in English territory, but they won all their own line-outs and several of England’s. Their defense was also literally rock solid and England found themselves at times running the width of the field trying to find an opening that didn’t exist in the South African defense . And as the English coach so rightly said in this interview, “I don’t think 15-6 on the scoreboard reflects the difference between the sides. We didn’t do well enough to get out of our 40-metre zone.”
Can’t argue with that. Congratulations Bokke!
South Africa are the Rugby World Cup Champions 2007 !!
Rugby World Cup Finals hosted by Bob & Sue in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Some photos of the occasion: