Habana: Why 2019 was bigger than 2007 and 1995
SPOTLIGHT: The unifying factor of winning a World Cup has once again been highlighted by South Africa claiming the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time.
However, which triumph – 1995, 2007 or 2019 – was the most impressive?
Bryan Gary Habana, World Cup winner in 2007, is leaning towards Siyamthanda Kolisi and his troops last year.
Habana, 36, who retired in 2017 as the Boks’ record try-scorer (with 67 tries) after 124 Tests and had successful domestic stints at home and with Toulon in France, pointed to the amazing tales that emerged from the class of 2019 as justification for his reasoning.
He spoke about how the win in Yokohama, Japan, will change the narrative of how sport is used as a unifying factor.
And he pointed out how his story is very different from that of Kolisi’s troops.
Habana reiterated those famous words of Nelson Mandela: ‘Sport has the power to unite the world.’
He was just a schoolboy when he saw how 1995 World Cup win united South Africa as a nation – a victory that lit the spark in him and turned a soccer player into a rugby great.
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“I was fortunate enough to be in Japan last year and see Siya Kolisi become the first black African captain of the Springboks and lift the Webb Ellis Cup,” Habana told historian and author Dean Allen – a chat that was part of a fund-raising effort for the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson Players Fund.
“I got quite emotional a number of times that week [before the Final against England], speaking about Siya and his journey.
“[Also] speaking about Makazola Mapimpi and his journey, having to walk 10 kilometres to and from school.
“Those real stories resonate with such an incredible number of South Africans, [which] makes 2019 a lot bigger than 2007 or 1995.
“Those are stories that 65 percent of our population really can resonate with and really can understand.”
He added that sport truly has the power to change the world and rugby in particular has been at the forefront of unification in South Africa.
“[The year] 2019 and those real stories will hopefully change the narrative of how we use sport to not only empower people, but also as a unifying factor.”
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