South Africa’s leadership presents its Rugby World Cup 2023 Bid to World Rugby’s Council later this month. I’ve picked my five best Springbok World Cup moments.
For me the Springboks’ 1995 World Cup final win against the All Blacks tops the list as South African rugby’s biggest World Cup moment.
There have been some amazing World Cup moments for the Springboks and remarkable individual achievements since the Springboks 1995 World Cup debut.
Chester Williams’s four tries against Samoa in 1995 and Bryan Habana’s four tries against Samoa in 2007 showcased brilliant finishing. Jannie de Beer’s five drop goals against England in the 1999 World Cup quarter-final in Paris was arguably the most remarkable individual achievement in the history of the tournament and the goalkicking accuracy of Joel Stransky in the 1995 final and Percy Montgomery in the 2007 World Cup final ensured gold for the Springboks.
South Africa, despite playing two less tournaments than three-time World Champions the All Blacks, rank as one of the great achievers in World Cups.
The Springboks have won two gold and two bronze medals in six World Cup tournament appearances and twice been beaten quarter-finalists.
The Springboks 2007 World Cup victory was sweet and deserved because they were comfortably the best team in France. I’ve heard the arguments that they had an easy ride to the title because they played Fiji, Argentina and England in the play-offs, but if the All Blacks and Australia and France had been that good they would have made it to the last four.
The Springboks didn’t pick who they played in the semi-final and final and there is nothing hollow about the Springboks 2007 World Cup final win against England.
I rank the 1995 win above the 2007 win because of the quality of the opposition in the final. The Springboks in 1995 beat an All Blacks team that rates as one of the finest in the professional era.
I was fortunate to be at Ellis Park reporting on the final. Words could never do justice to the magnitude of the occasion and the victory. Books were written about it and Hollywood even made a movie about it. But neither the book nor the movie was quite as good as being there on the day.
Why do I want South Africa to host the 2023 World Cup? I want to see, among other things, South Africa playing the All Blacks in the final at the National Stadium – and winning!
And I want to again experience absolute rugby mania in this country for six weeks. I know we’ll host an incredible Rugby World Cup but it’s the potential of those matches in 2023 and individual performances that will further entrench South Africa in rugby folklore.
The Springboks will always be a contender to win the World Cup, which makes it even that much more appealing to know your team has the capacity to be the champions.
So, for purposes of record and for discussion and debate, here’s my top five Springbok World Cup matches:
1. 1995 World Cup final against the All Blacks
2. 2007 World Cup Group win against England. The Springboks destroyed them 36-0 in Paris.
3. Again, Paris and this time 1999. Jannie de Beer kicks five drop goals and against all odds the Springboks hammer England in the quarter-final.
4. The 1995 World Cup opening game win at Newlands against the defending championship Australia.
5. The 2007 World Cup final win against England in Paris.
*And for those who feel the Guinness tastes better in Ireland, here’s something to consider.
The latest price parity shows the cost of a beer to be:
Paris – 7 dollars 50 cents
Dublin – 6 dollars 50 cents
Cape Town – 2 dollars 10 cents
Johannesburg – 1 dollar 70 cents