South Africa

Next up on our Autumn International list is South Africa, the 2-time World Champions. South Africa’s relationship with Rugby is long and complicated, but it does make for some entertaining and inspirational rugby!

Known as the Springboks, they have been representing the country in international rugby union since 1891. South Africa never competed in the first two world cups because of the apartheid, but they hosted the 1995 cup. To everyone’s surprise, they won it as well. They beat the All Black giants 15-12, also known as one of the country’s greatest sporting moments. 12 years later, they won the trophy again at the Stade de France against England, promoting themselves to 1st place in the IRB rankings.

South Africa are one of the four teams in the 4 Nations – southern hemisphere tournament along with Argentina, New Zealand and Australia (all of whom are currently touring in the Autumn Internationals). Currently they lie in 5th spot on the IRB rankings, after a rather dismal display in the southern hemisphere championship. The Springboks had their worst defeat against the All Blacks in September where they lost 57-0 in Auckland.

 

1995 world cup – ‘one team, one country’

As I said earlier, South Africa make for some inspirational and entertaining rugby. That is very present in the 1995 world cup. At the end of the Apartheid, the Springboks came back into rugby and hosted the 1995 world Cup. They were seeded 9th and went and won it. Although the slogan was ‘one team, one country’ the rifts were still deep in the country, and it took the world cup to begin the healing process.

South African rugby was seen as a ‘white’ sport to the black population. Nelson Mandela saw to that by showing the entire country that we are one team, by wearing the shirt. This was seen as a major step towards reconciliation of the country. This was chronicled in a book called ‘Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that made a nation’. This later inspired an Academy Award nominated film starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman called Invictus.

Rugby isn’t normally in the headlines, but the story of South Africa, showed the greatness that Rugby can do. Over the years, South Africa have faced 25 countries, winning games against them all, besides, surprisingly enough: Japan. This was in the latest World Cup, where Japan shocked the world by beating the 2-time champions 34-32.

 

The Anthem

Quite possibly one of the best anthems (from a language point of view) out there! The Anthem is a portrayal of all who call South Africa home. It’s in 5 languages, each have a verse. The first verse is Xhosa, followed by Zulu, then Sesotho, Afrikaans then finishing with English. These are the most widely spoken languages in the country.

 

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

XhosaNkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo
ZuluYizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
SesothoMorena boloka setshaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setshaba sa heso,
Setshaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika.
AfrikaansUit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
EnglishSounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom
In South Africa our land!

 

Lord Bless Africa

Lord bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high

Hear our prayers
Lord bless us, your children.

Lord we ask you to protect our nation,
Intervene and end all conflicts,
Protect us, protect our nation,
the nation of South Africa, South Africa.

Out of the blue of our heavens,
Out of the depths of our seas,
Over everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing crags resound

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom
In South Africa our land!

 

This has been the anthem of South Africa since 1997 which is a merge of Die Stem Van Suid-Afrika and the hymn Nkosi Sikelei iAfrika! Both of these songs were adopted as National Anthems in 1994. But then a merge to know just one (but both of them at the same time) was made.

 

During these Autumn Internationals, South Africa face Ireland, France and Italy. Unfortunately, their tour hasn’t gotten off to the best start as they lost their opening match against Ireland over the weekend. They had a heavy defeat of 38-3. They are up against France who they have a 59%-win ratio over. If they want to finish 2017 on a high, they will need to improve a lot. But as we’ve seen from the Springboks- anything can happen!