Emotional reunion for ’95 Springbok team

The team walked through the tunnel with victorious captain Francois Pienaar rolling iconic scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen onto the field in a wheelchair with the rest of the squad in tow.

The men joined for a photograph in front of a banner that read “Still One Team, Still One Country” as a scrum of photographers snapped away.

Twenty years have left its marks on the 1995 World Cup heroes but the memories remain vivid in their minds.

The memories came flashing back as he walked onto the field, said Mark Andrews, who has not watched the match since the Boks beat the All Blacks on July 24 1995.

“The reason why for me is that I’ve got memories of that day and there is the old saying ‘the older I get the better I was’,” Andrews said.


“On that day in 1995 I was bulletproof, I was Superman in a Springbok jersey, I probably played ‘k*k’ but I’ve got good memories of how good we were as a team.

“As time goes by the memories become sweeter and I am not that excited to watch it as the reality will set in and I see I was actually pretty average that day.”

The euphoria and spirit of that memorable day on which former president Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey, presented the Webb Ellis trophy to Pienaar was tangible on Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and I welled up, it dawned on me that 20 years ago I went through that cocktail of emotions,” Pienaar said as he fought back the tears.

“What happened 20 years ago is what made this country stand up for the first time and we became a nation for the first time.

“We didn’t know that it would be that big, we had a sense that it was something extraordinary but in our wildest dreams we couldn’t have imagined what happened 20 years ago.”

Pienaar said the afternoon screening of the match would also be the first time that he would watch the game.

“You don’t want the romance to be tainted, it is almost selfish but the thought was that it was so special that anything after this almost doesn’t matter,” he said.

It was a bitter-sweet reunion with the absence of Ruben Kruger, coach Kitch Christie, and Mandela, who have died since that momentous day.

“If it wasn’t for Madiba and his magic, this country would not have been together,” Pienaar said.

“The team adopted the slogan and wanted to be one team, for one country, so we are going to miss him tonight and his Madiba Magic.”

Joel Stranksy, who slotted the famous drop goal in extra-time to clinch the victory, said it was emotional meeting up with his old team-mates.

“I think the emotions I feel is from seeing the other guys, when you go through the kind of adventure – the training, the fitness, the hardship – you build a great camaraderie,” Stransky said.

“There is an element of suffering and from the suffering, the victory and the greater achievement, you build a great camaraderie.”

It was also a tough day for the players as they were confronted by the image of a frail Van der Westhuizen, who was suffering motor neuron disease.

“The suffering he is going through at the moment, his fight is more painful, we obviously miss Kitch and Ruben tremendously but to see Joost suffering is not so nice,” Stransky said. – Sport24

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Marcia Mayaba —Driven to open doors for women

Marcia Mayaba has been in the motor industry for 24 years, donning hats that include receptionist, driver, fuel attendant, dealer principal and now chief...

ANC’s rotten apples on the chopping block

Now that the NEC has finalised its step-aside guidelines for those facing corruption charges, a swathe of officials will struggle to cling to their positions

More top stories

State rejects pyramid-schemer’s plea: ‘I stole the money, and plead...

The state has rejected fraudster Roderick Cole-Edwards’ guilty plea for R11.6-million pyramid-scheme theft

Hot topic: Is crypto’s climate cost higher than its value?

The recent blockchain boom has been followed by concerns over its impact on the environment

The plight of the ‘missing middle’ is no joke, Nzimande

Parents who, on paper, look like they can afford to pay their children’s university fees often can’t. They also miss out on funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

More ethnically diverse bone marrow donors needed to save lives

The myth that regenerative stem cells are body parts has led to donor reluctance
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…