It’s been an exciting weekend for South African rugby, with the Xerox Golden Lions taking on the DHL Western Province in the Currie Cup final and the Springboks facing off against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
Though Lions supporters celebrated their third Currie Cup win (after their transition from Transvaal), Western Province and South African supporters worldwide let out a resounding sigh as teams narrowly missed out on a win.
But in stark contrast to some previous matches, supporters all walked away with a feeling of contentment at the stunning displays of sportsmanship between New Zealand and South Africa. After a narrow 20-18 loss in the semi-final match, a distraught Jesse Kriel sank to the ground in devastation. In a scene reminiscent of the Cricket World Cup semi-final earlier this year, Sonny Bill Williams reached out to Kriel in an act of compassion; consoling the South African player in the same way Grant Elliot consoled Dale Steyn.
The message was heard on social media channels across the globe and seemed to reinforce and important message for players and supporters everywhere – that despite our differences, the love of the game is what it’s all about, and the only victor is rugby.
Although New Zealand seemed to fumble a bit throughout the game, and conceded penalties to give the bokke the upper hand at first, the Springbok loss was put down to poor execution on their exit strategy and the All Blacks’ seemingly inherent ability to raise their game when the chips are down.
The All Blacks are the favourites for many in the Rugby World Cup final, but it remains to be seen who will walk away with the sought-after cup in 2015.