Siya's Boks to give battered South Africa hope ... again
The Springboks remain South Africa’s most powerful unifying factor and Saturday at the Cape Town Stadium they will start another mission to uplift a battered nation.
They did it in the 1995 World Cup, with victory in the 2007 World Cup and again by winning World Rugby’s showcase event in 2019.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – which has even caused some serious problems within the Bok camp – and the violent unrest in the country, South Africa is in desperate need of some good news.
The death toll in the recent unrest – which involved mass looting and destruction of property – stood at over 300 on the eve of Saturday’s Test between the Boks and the British and Irish Lions.
More than 250 of those deaths occurred in KwaZulu-Natal and another 50-odd in Gauteng.
World Cup-winning Bok skipper Siyamthanda Kolisi on Friday spoke of the fact that “big games and tournaments” always seem to coincide with “things going wrong in our country”.
He made it clear their focus is on rugby and winning the game first, because a losing team doesn’t inspire people.
However, they are well aware they have the power to inspire.
“We are South Africans before we are Springbok players,” Kolisi told a virtual media briefing – when asked about the troubling times South Africa finds itself in yet again.
“What affects our people, affects us as players,” he added.
“We are going to make sure that we focus on the job that we have to do.
(Article continues below video …)
“As [SA’s Director of Rugby] Rassie [Erasmus] said in the build-up to the  World Cup, we are in a place of privilege.
“We do what we love every single day.
“If we are able to put a smile on peoples’ faces and, for just a moment, let everybody else put their problems aside when we win, then they feel like they win too.”
He added that a victorious team allows people to forget whatever difficult situation they find themselves in and pull together as a nation.
“We’ve got families,” Kolisi said, adding: “We’ve got friends, we’ve got people who have suffered during this time.
“We want to make sure that while we have the privilege to do what we do, we give it our ultimate best.
“We know people are behind us, no matter what it is they are going through.
“If we can put a smile on people’s faces, it will make us happy and drive us, even more, to ensure we don’t give up on the field and give everything.”