Springbok fever is in full swing this week for the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup 2019 final vs England on Saturday.
As South Africa got closer to the final, people seemed to get more excited, even those who may not generally follow rugby.
Local pubs screening the game were choc-a-bloc for the semi-final against Wales last weekend. With it being such a hard-fought game and the score so close, viewers were on the edge of their seats. There were shouts of joy mingled with relief when the final whistle was blown.
Videos have appeared on social media of impromptu singing and dancing in support of the Boks, especially just before the semi-final against Wales, and again after the Springbok victory. It almost feels like a revival of the same national spirit of support behind the Boks that existed in 1995, when we had Nelson Mandela energising the team with his support.
But this is even more closely a sequel to the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, as it is once again South Africa vs England. We beat England twice in that World Cup, in one of the early games and in the final, so of course the Boks and fans will be riding on that psychological advantage to some degree, with of course the acknowledgement that this is 12 years later, with a different team.
The English team, on the other hand, will be driven by a quest to make up for that 2007 loss and the prestige of beating the mighty Springboks.
They also have the huge morale booster of having beaten the All Blacks, by a good margin. The Boks were not able to do that, and in fact the All Blacks remain the biggest thorn in our flesh. That’s why there was so much gloating and joking on social media when New Zealand fell to England.
We will only get over that when the Boks are finally able to beat the All Blacks again.
Nevertheless we are thankful England saved us the problem this time, because we go into the game believing we can beat England.
Not to ignore how well England has been playing by any means. Eddie Jones’ reputation precedes him, and he has done a sterling job with the English team. They are a force to be reckoned with.
Their dogged defence and restraint in their game against New Zealand forced the Kiwis to be the team that conceded penalties – which cost them the game.
Even though players like Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux have been the butt of jokes for their habits and mishaps on the field, they and the rest of the team receive our full support for the final.
– Jon Houzet