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Tue 23 Jun 2020 | 06:00

VIDEO: Francois Pienaar's biggest regret

VIDEO: Francois Pienaar's biggest regret
Tue 23 Jun 2020 | 06:00
VIDEO: Francois Pienaar's biggest regret
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WATCH as World Cup-winning former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar reveals the one big regret from his playing career.

Pienaar was speaking to historian and author Dean Allen – as part of a hugely popular weekly fund-raising effort for the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson Players Fund.

The skipper of the legendary 1995 team described himself as ‘the luckiest sportsman alive’, but admitted he has one regret over his magical ‘Madiba Moment’.

Pienaar was asked about the iconic moment when the late former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, presented him with the Webb Ellis Cup at the 1995 World Cup Final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

“It is only when you reflect on this many years later,” Pienaar told Allen, adding: “We [Mandela and I] said exactly the same words to one another.

“When Mr Mandela handed me the trophy, he said: ‘Francois, thank you for what you have done for the country.’

“I replied: ‘No Mr Mandela, thank you for what you have done for the country’.”

However, that is where the regret comes in.

“I wished I hugged him,” the former Boks skipper said, adding: “I thought that’s [the] protocol, you can’t do that.

“The smile on his face, the smile when he saw the team and greeted the team, was just something really special.

“I am the luckiest sportsman alive, because of that moment, and I thank my team for it.

“The team was insanely good.”

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(Continue reading below … )

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Pienaar was also asked how it felt that actor Matt Damon played him in a movie made of their 1995 triumph.

Pienaar said the movie, Invictus, was a story that needed to be told.

However, he felt it didn’t truly reflect what the victory did for South Africa as a country.

“I think the narrative could have been [scripted] better,” Pienaar said, adding: “I get a disproportionate amount of credit.

“It is wrong that I get so much credit in the movie, because it was a team effort.

“What I don’t like about that movie is the fact that we don’t see [team manager] Morné du Plessis.

“We don’t see our genius coach [Kitch Christie]. We don’t see a lot [of the] stuff that made us [successful].

“It is fine that they tell a story about how a team that united a nation, but it [the unification factor] was far more powerful than the movie proclaimed.

“What happened in our country, you can’t script. There is not a smart enough Hollywood producer – in this instance it was Clint Eastwood – that could actually script what happened in our country and could bottle, in a movie, the genius of that team.”

He spoke about the comical moment when he met Damon for the first time.

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“He is not the tallest guy in the world,” he said of the actor who stands at about 1,75-metres, adding: “He looked up at me [Pienaar is 1,96-metres] and said: ‘I am much bigger on screen.’

“I just think the story was far more powerful [than what it came across in the movie].

“It is strange to see them trying to portray what happened in your world.

“More people should be given credit.

“In the end, it was an accolade to [the late former President] Nelson Mandela.

“[It was] an unbelievable influence he had, when he came an visited us before the opening match, the messages I got from him during the tournament.

“When we were in the changing room, ahead of the Final, the team was focussed and we were getting ready for the biggest game of our lives, there was a knock on the door. Nelson Mandela walks in. He wished us well and said we are making the country proud.

“It could have worked against us. We had to calm everybody down, because we still had a game to play.

“The movie is a tribute to Mr Mandela and we can’t give him enough credit.”

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Also worth reading …

IN CONVERSATION WITH THE CLASS OF ’95
IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN SMIT – Part Two
IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN SMIT – Part One
IN CONVERSATION WITH BRYAN HABANA – Part Two
IN CONVERSATION WITH BRYAN HABANA – Part One
IN CONVERSATION WITH SCHALK BURGER
IN CONVERSATION WITH JEAN DE VILLIERS

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VIDEO: Francois Pienaar's biggest regret - south africa | Rugby365