How Nelson Mandela and Rugby United South Africa
The Day the Rainbow Nation Was Born
Being born and brought up in East Africa in the 1950s and with a love of the African continent, I remember the continual banter on news channels and in the press of the dreadful apartheid problems in South Africa. Not always understanding what apartheid actually meant as a 10 year old, it wasn't long before I became fully aware of how this racial segregation had seriously damaged this wonderful country.
As a youngster, my first love was sport, I played any game I got the chance to play, and ran in races given any opportunity, especially at school sports days. As I transitioned up the school my love of sport continued, in the summer it would be tennis and golf while in the winter field hockey and rugby would keep us exercised.
Never being very good at rugby and with a grandfather who had played for the Irish national team between 1910 and 1913, I became an avid follower of this tremendous sport. Whenever international matches were played we would try to watch on television, but undoubtedly the highlights were seen during the Rugby World Cup held every 4 years.
The Rugby World Cup in 1995 was truly one of those very special moments in history. South Africa participated (and hosted the event) for the very first time following years and years of an international sports boycott - and WON. But it was the fairytale ending when Nelson Mandela, dressed in a Springbok rugby jersey and matching baseball cap, presented the trophy to Francois Pienaar, South Africa's captain.
Photo credit: www.iol.co.za
Created on 29 Aug 2013
IMMINENT - Moments in History
Selected as Lens of the Day on 6 December 2013
What Was Apartheid All About?
Apartheid referred to "the state being apart". The National Party or NP formed the national government of South Africa and ruled the country from 1948 to 1994. Under their legislation, a damning and damaging system of racial segregation was ruthlessly enforced by the dominant, but minority white, Afrikaner inhabitants. As a result, the majority of the population who were black inhabitants had to endure curtailed rights.
In South Africa, racial segregation began under Dutch and British rule in colonial times, but the official policy of apartheid wasn't introduced until after the 1948 general election. New laws now classified the inhabitants into four distinct groups by race and color - "white", "coloured", "native", and "Asian". From now on black people were considered inferior and segregation in housing, education and medical care became commonplace. Even beaches and certain public services weren't to escape this appalling treatment.
Apartheid sparked a great deal of violence and unrest, and many of the significant protests were dealt with by imprisoning the anti-apartheid leaders, this caused further repression and increased violence. By now the West had placed sanctions on South Africa which made governing the country by the regime more difficult.
In 1990, President F.W. de Klerk began talks with a view to ending apartheid, and in 1994 multi-racial democratic elections took place, in which Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress (ANC) won the people's mandate.
Image credit: skyrock.com
Long Walk To Freedom
Get into the world of Nelson Madela, even if only for a brief time. In his bestseller, he takes us through part of his journey as he talks of burying the hatchet of ethnic hatred, and forging ahead towards a country of peace and love.
He teaches us how to treat all peoples as equals, but don't expect him to be super-human as, in his own words, he also has many faults. No-one is perfect, but Mandela advocates the power of peaceful protests.
This is a must read book for anyone with a streak of humanity in them!
Mandela's Years in Prison
Nelson Mandela's political work during the 1950s and 1960s did not go unnoticed by the apartheid regime and it wasn't long before he became one of their major targets. After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Mandela went underground, but in 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government.
He served 27 years in three different prisons, the first 18 years (1964-82) were spent on Robben Island, a small island just 5 miles off the coast at Cape Town in Table Bay. The following 5 1/2 years in Pollsmoor Prison (1982-88), and the final 2 1/2 years in Victor Verster Prison (1988-90).
Between 1968 and 1969, Nelson Mandela suffered two tragedies, first his mother passed away then his eldest son died in a car crash but the authorities refused to allow him to attend the funerals.
Image credit: http://qusouthafrica.com
In prison, you come face to face with time. There is nothing more terrifying.— Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela Links
- The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela
Biography of Rolihlahla Mandela who was born on July 18, 1918 into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei.
- Nelson Mandela's life and times
Unquestionably South Africa's highest-profile ambassador with a charisma to match. His lack of bitterness over his poor treatment and his amazing story explain his appeal globally.
The Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup (RWC) is a tournament held every four years between the leading international teams from around the world. The winning side receives the William Webb Ellis Cup or rugby world cup as it has become known.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) is the sport's international governing body, and they own the Rugby World Cup Limited who are responsible for administering the tournament.
The first RWC was in 1987, and subsequent tournaments have been held every four years since. Twenty of the world's top teams are invited to take part.
The 2015 World Cup will be staged in England, and in 2019, the event will be held in Japan.
Following the extraordinary success of the 1995 RWC and the fairytale ending for South Africa, it was inevitable that in time a film would be made about it, and it was. Called 'Invictus' and directed by Clint Eastwood it starred Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as Pienaar.
Invictus translated from Latin means "undefeated"
This is a film that had it not been historically accurate, many viewers could have found it totally unbelievable.
Nelson Mandela was heard to utter the word 'Invictus' as he was being driven away from the stadium after the match.
A remarkable story of a remarkable day in South Africa's history. A film with great entertainment value.
Rugby World Cup 1995
Recognized as one of the most poignant sporting images of our time. President Mandela, wearing the Springbok jersey, presents the Rugby World Cup to Francois Pienaar, his nation's captain.
The achievement on the rugby field was immense as Pienaar's side somehow found a way, against the odds, to defeat the mighty New Zealand All Blacks, which included Jonah Lomu, the previously unstoppable rugby giant.
This was a day where history was made; the Rainbow Nation was reborn.
Rugby Union - The Game
The game of rugby union is said to have been invented by a pupil of Rugby School in England, when the ball was picked up during a football game.
Rugby is a full contact sport whereby an oval shaped ball is picked up and passed to fellow members of the team with the intention of crossing over the opponents line and touching the ball down onto the ground for what is called a 'try' (5 points). Then an attempt is made to kick the ball from a placeholder positioned on the earth opposite to where the try was scored. (2 points for a successful attempt). To prevent the opponents from running through and scoring tries, the team on the defensive has to tackle players with the purpose of regaining control of the ball. Tackles can be hard and furious often resulting in casualties.
Rugby spread throughout the British Isles and Commonwealth countries such as, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. France, Italy, South Africa, Argentina and Georgia are also top rated countries.
This is not a game for the faint hearted !
Image credit: Understand Rugby Union
About the Rugby World Cup
The Enjoyment of Rugby
My grandfather, while studying to be a doctor at Trinity College in Dublin, was a keen rugby player. Like many in his chosen profession, this was the game they chose to play, and it wasn't long before he got the call-up to play for his country, Ireland. He played in a handful of matches wearing the proud green jersey between 1910 and 1913 before World War I interrupted most sporting schedules for the next few years.
When I see the Springboks sporting their predominantly green jersey (with a gold collar), I can't help but think about our not too dissimilar emerald green Irish jersey. Two countries in green and two countries I have a little in common with, but for now rugby is the game many of our family love.
On the side, another small family connection with this occasion was that my cousin's wife was the sister of Sean Fitzpatrick, the All Blacks captain (#2 or hooker) on this tumultuous day. His supreme All Black team was expected to triumph over the 'boks' - but they were up against an entire nation on fire!
About the Game of Rugby...
...And The Man Himself
Live or on TV
Have You Ever Watched the Rugby World Cup?
Highlights of the Rugby World Cup 1995
Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography
Nelson Mandela is an international hero who has dedicated his entire life to the struggle against racial oppression in South Africa. In 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with FW de Klerk for working towards a peaceful end to apartheid and sowing the seeds for a new democracy in South Africa.
This book has a profound impact of the kindness, strength and humaneness of the man. After such dreadful cruelty and mistreatment, his humanity towards his oppressors is indeed impressive. The story is told of Mandela's life, his epic struggle followed by setback and finally the renewed hope with the ultimate triumph.
This book should be on the syllabus for all students studying history in all countries of the world.
A Few Final Thoughts
With all the researching I've done when writing lenses and other articles, none has moved me more than compiling this one. The more I read about this extraordinary man and what he has had to endure in his lifetime of struggle, oppression and hardship, the more I'm moved in realizing what he achieved for mankind as a whole.
Studying law as a young man and setting up South Africa's first black law practice stood him in good stead for the rest of his life. His dignity, understanding and forgiveness is legendary, but I cannot think of any recent person who has changed so many peoples lives for the better. I know Martin Luther King changed lives in America, and beyond forever - and he also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 - however, he did not have to suffer 27 harsh years of prison as well.
Following that infamous rugby world cup match, Mandela deserved as much recognition as the Springboks team itself - for they also had been so motivated by this truly amazing man.
Nelson Mandela died on 5th Dec 2013 and the world mourns the passing of one of the greatest statesmen of our time.