Confidence Helps You Win — In Sports and Life

I’m a retired rugby player.  I played my first match in college 1968 and my last on my 60th birthday in 2010.  I love rugby.  And in this post, I want to tell you the story of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, played in South Africa.  This was the first time the South Africa Springboks were allowed to compete in the Rugby World Cup.  They had been banned from competing in previous Rugby World Cups because of the racist policies of the apartheid government.

But 1995 was different.  Nelson Mandela, a black man, was the President of South Africa.  The apartheid era was over.  And the Springboks were invited not only to play in the World Cup, but to host it.  The 2009 movie, Invictus, chronicled that story.

Invictus is the story of the South African victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.  That victory is credited for healing many of the wounds caused by the apartheid years.  Nelson Mandela consciously chose to support the Springboks – long seen as a symbol of white oppression in South Africa and hated by most of the country’s black population – as a rallying cry for national unity and putting aside the hatred of the dehumanizing apartheid policy of the white South African government.  The team did not disappoint.  They won the World Cup in a memorable match against New Zealand, then the best rugby side in the world.

Morgan Freeman plays Mandela in the film.  Matt Damon plays Springbok Captain, Francois Pienaar.  I loved the movie – it was right up my alley – about two things I love to discuss: politics and sports.  It was a bonus that it was about my favorite sport, rugby football.  I actually saw that famous 1995 match on video two days after it happened.  As I watched it, I commented that Pienaar was a mad man on the pitch that day.  He willed the South African team to victory…

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