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Fri 4 Oct 2019 | 02:06

Pool B Anthems

Pool B Anthems
Fri 4 Oct 2019 | 02:06
Pool B Anthems

It’s Pool B’s turn to look at its anthems, old and new, including two that are bilingual and one that it multilingual, one that has a reference going back into ancient history.

Pool B’s teams: Canada, Italy, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa


There were people in this huge country with its three oceans and great lakes before people came from Europe to settle there. Amongst them were the Iroquois who had a word for a settlement – something like kanata. The French explorer, Jacques Cartier, cottoned onto the word and turned it into Canada.

Peoples came from Europe, mainly the French and the English. They squabbled, the English won and Canada became part of the British Empire.

The anthem was written first in French in 1880 – words by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, music by Calixa Lavallée. Early in the 20th century and English translation by Robert Stanley Weir was accepted. In 1939 it was accepted, in both languages, as the national anthem and in 1980 it became officially the anthem

Only the English version is being sung at the World Cup, but there is no doubting the devotion with which all the players sing their anthem.

O Canada

In English

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

In French

Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.


Italy: Fratelli d’Italia – Brothers of Italy

Words: Goffredo Mameli
Music: Michele Novaro
Date: 1847

This was composed during the battle for a unified Italy – the risorgimento, the time of Garibaldi, when Italy became a nation and not just a geographic expression. It did not become Italy’s Inno (national anthem) till after World War II.

Fratelli d’Italia,
l’Italia s’è desta,
dell’elmo di Scipio*
s’è cinta la testa.
Dov’è la Vittoria?
Le porga la chioma,
ché schiava di Roma
Iddio la creò.

Stringiamci a coorte,
siam pronti alla morte.
Siam pronti alla morte,
l’Italia chiamò.
Stringiamci a coorte,
siam pronti alla morte.
Siam pronti alla morte,
l’Italia chiamò! Sì!

*The Si! at the end is shouted with determination.

English Translation

Brothers of Italy,
Italy has woken,
Bound Scipio’s helmet
Upon her head.
Where is Victory?
Let her bow down,
For God created her
Slave of Rome.

Let us join in a cohort,
We are ready to die.
We are ready to die,
Italy has called.
Let us join in a cohort,
We are ready to die.
We are ready to die,
Italy has called! Yes!

*The Scipio mentioned here was Publius Cornelius Scipio, the man who went across to North Africa to defeat Hannibal, Rome’s most feared enemy, in the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. For that, Scoipio was given the name Africanus as a title of honour. It would seem that he is still Italy’s greatest war hero.


Namibia is a big country with a small population. It has been referred to as Damaraland, from a dominant group in the south, German South West Africa when Germany had imperial ambitions in the days of Bismark, then, after South Africa had taken over, just South West Africa and now, since independence in 1990, Namibia, from the name of the vast absolute desert, the Namib. In 1991 Axali Doeseb won a competition for the composition of a national anthem for the country and Namibia, Land of the Brave became its national anthem and is sung in English, the official language though the home language of less than 2% of the population. (There are also Afrikaans, German and Ovambo versions.)

Namibia, Land of the Brave

Namibia, land of the brave
Freedom fight we have won
Glory to their bravery
Whose blood waters our freedom
We give our love and loyalty
Together in unity
Contrasting beautiful Namibia
Namibia our country
Beloved land of savannahs,
Hold high the banner of liberty
Namibia our Country,
Namibia Motherland,
We love thee.

New Zealand

It was a poem that was later set to music. Thomas Bracken of Dunedin wrote the poem and John Woods put it to music, all in the 1870s. But the national anthem was God Save the King/Queen. The royal hymn remains but now God Defend New Zealand has equal status officially and is more used.

Also in the 1870s, the anthem was translated into Maori but its use at rugby internationals is recent. At the World Cup, the Maori version is sung first, then the English version.

*Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand and it means Land of the Long White Cloud. Abel Tasman was a Dutchman, and the Dutch brought the Zeeland name, altering it to New Zealand, as they had used the name New Amsterdam before the English decided it was New York.

Aotearoa/God Defend New Zealand

E Ihowa Atua,
O nga iwi matou ra
Ata whakarangona;
Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko te pai;
Kia tau to atawhai;
Manaakitia mai

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

South Africa

South Africa has 11 official languages. five of which are used in the national anthem. It starts with Xhosa, then goes on in Zulu, then Sotho, then Afrikaans and finally English.

South Africa has a long history of conflict involving Portuguese and San, the Dutch, San and British, Zulus and British, Xhosa and British, Boer and British, Boer and Zulus and many others amongst themselves, and this anthem seeks the peace, inclusivity and unity envisaged by the great Nelson Mandela, the first president of the new democratic South Africa, inaugurated in 1994 when two anthems were sung, Nkosi sikilel and Die Stem.

The first part of the new anthem, Nkosi sikilel, is the oldest part, written in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga as a hymn. The next oldest part, in Afrikaans, is from Die Stem, written by CJ Langenhoven and put to music by Dominie ML de Villiers in 1921. The last part, in English, is the work of composer Dr Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, who arranged the whole new anthem. It was adopted as the national anthem in 1997, a century after Sontonga’s composition.

The South African National Anthem

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho Iwayo

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika.

Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

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


From Xhosa
Lord bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high,

From Zulu
Hear our petitions
Lord bless us, your children.

From Sotho
Lord we ask You to protect our nation,
Intervene and end all conflicts,
Protect us, protect our nation,
Protect South Africa, South Africa

From Afrikaans
From the blue of our skies,
From the depths of our sea
Over our eternbal mountains
Where the cliffs respond,

PV: 5060

Pool B Anthems - canada | Rugby365