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Sport: bringing people together

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

In diversity lies strength – and the Boks showed us how.

The past week has seen our streets buzzing with fans awaiting the return of the victorious Springbok team. Cities roared as the busload of green and gold, with captain Siya Kolisi at the head holding the World Rugby Cup high, slid through the streets. What a triumph. And the Boks deserve every smile and slap on the back – they defeated the English squad with real conviction and grace. And they’ve lifted our spirits at a time when all news seems gloomy. Rugby fever has the thankful nation in its grip.

The tale goes back to 1995, when South Africa grabbed the world’s eye by winning the team’s first Rugby World Cup, also against England, with Francois Pienaar at the helm. Then, the crowds rose and cheered as the world’s beloved icon for freedom and peace, the newly elected President Nelson Mandela, crossed the field in a captain’s jersey to join hands with the team in victory. It was exciting, and it held the answer for a bright future. As Mandela stated, ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.’

Mandela certainly understood the role sport could play in unifying all South Africans. He recognised it as an activity that could level the playing field for all races, creeds, people rich and poor, the privileged and not-so-fortunate. Sport, it’s clear, has the ability to squash hate and prejudice in a way that protests and diplomacy cannot achieve.

This year, when the Boks took to the field as a team, its players represented almost entirely the country’s population. Captain Siya Kolisi, the kid from the township, never dreamed that he would one day lead an international team against a host of others. And yet this year, Siya and coach Rassie Erasmus took our diverse group of hugely talented people and focused them on one single goal – bringing 80 minutes of sheer skill and pleasure to millions of people – people like you and me, worn down by the pressures of everyday life.

Siya was not born into greatness. His journey from humble to the world stage has been filled with the obstacles that every South African, regardless of race or class, can appreciate. His message is a simple one. ‘I really think an individual can change South Africa,’ he tells us on TV, ‘and sometimes you’ve got to do something as simple as living your life and fighting for your dreams. Sometimes, you just have to tell your story.’

He leads a Bok team that the entire country can buy into. It represents our unique society more accurately than ever before and, importantly, it can be the best in the world.

Nelson Mandela advised the nation to allow its people’s natural talent to emerge. Wise advice and yet another reason Cape Tea is proud to feature this far-sighted icon on our Mandela Tea packaging.

As for the Springboks – we couldn’t be more proud!


Bloomberg. South Africa’s rugby victory has lessons for all of us. Business Tech, 4 Nov 2019.

Douglas, S. South Africa wins third rugby cup title over England. Time magazine, 2 Nov 2019.


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