Thirty minutes after South Africa’s Rugby World Cup victory last month, captain Siya Kolisi walked over with his kids to conduct a post-match interview with Bryan Habana on British broadcaster ITV.
Habana, the Springboks’ second most capped player of all-time and World Cup winner in 2007, came together with the winning skipper to sum up what the moment meant for the people of the Rainbow Nation.
Kolisi’s rags to riches journey from poverty-stricken township Zwide in Port Elizabeth to World Cup winning captain is incredible, and Habana was overwhelmed with emotion after the stunning win over England.
Speaking to Sport360, HSBC Ambassador Habana said: “To be able to be pitchside after that World Cup victory and to be able to have that embrace with Siya, knowing his journey and knowing the road he has come to get to that point was pretty special. It did cause a few tears which I couldn’t hold back.
“For South Africa to be inspired by someone who was totally underprivileged, for someone who watched my World Cup win in 2007 in a shanty because his parents couldn’t afford a television. Knowing Siya’s story and where the team was 18 months before, knowing what they had to overcome to win that title. No team had lost a game and gone on to win the tournament or no team had won the Rugby Championship and gone on to win it.
“As Rassie (Erasmus) said it after the match: The World Cup is not pressure, worrying about providing for your family and worrying about your next meal is pressure.”
Since taking over as head coach in March 2018, Erasmus has transformed a struggling team and sold an extremely effective game plan to his players that has been the catalyst for their success.
He has managed to build depth in most positions and capture the imagination of the South African rugby public again, thanks largely to Rugby Championship and Webb Ellis Cup triumphs this year.
Being physical and confrontational is what the Boks do best, with set-piece superiority, territorial dominance and an accurate kicking game proving hugely effective.
“Rassie doesn’t like laying out too many rules, but the ones he does, you have to abide by them. In doing that, you see the way he has brought a team from a wobbly status to Rugby World Cup champions,” said the 36-year-old.
“He’s a good guy, one of the most innovative, forward thinking coaches the game has ever seen. He’s gone down in history having achieved some greatness.”
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