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Siya Kolisi says South Africa’s Rugby World Cup win can unite country where ‘so much is going wrong’ - CNN

Author: CNN

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/30/sport/siya-kolisi-south-africa-rugby-world-cup-spt-intl/index.html

Image of Siya Kolisi says South Africa’s Rugby World Cup win can unite country where ‘so much is going wrong’ - CNN

CNN—Captain Siya Kolisi said on Saturday that South Africa’s second consecutive Rugby World Cup title has the potential to unite the country, after he led the team to an enthralling 12-11 victory over New Zealand in the final.“There is so much going wrong in our country, we are the last line of defence,” Kolisi told broadcaster ITV Sport.South Africa’s success in France was played out against the background of the country’s high unemployment rate as well as an energy crisis – ongoing loadshedding, also known as a series of power blackouts – and a nation which, according to the IMF, “suffers among the highest levels of inequality in the world.”“There are so many people who come from where I come from who are helpless and there is so much division, but we show with people from different backgrounds that it is possible to work together.Not just on the rugby field but in life in general,” added Kolisi.Kolisi – whose life began in poverty, growing up in the township of Zwide, just outside Port Elizabeth – is the first Black captain to lead the Springboks and became the second ever male player, after New Zealand’s Richie McCaw, to lead his team to back-to-back triumphs.His story represents the often impossible dream in South Africa and after the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup triumph, he established the Kolisi Foundation with the aim of “changing the story of inequality in South Africa.”Rugby, and the World Cup in particular, is intertwined with South Africa’s history, still evoking memories of President Nelson Mandela’s effort to unite the country in the post-apartheid era by publicly and passionately supporting the eventually victorious Springboks at the 1995 World Cup, a team which had traditionally been perceived as symbolic of White minority rule by apartheid and excluded Black players from the squad.“Look what the sport did in 1995, we can’t get away from that,” Kolisi added.“Without that, I wouldn’t be here.There were people before me who fought for people that look like me to be able to play in this team, they never got to experience that.“So I have a job to make sure to give everything I can to the jersey to inspire the next generation that they can get opportunities like this,” he saidThe team’s slogan #StrongerTogether, frequently tweeted by the team as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa, seemed to embody a genuine philosophy with Boks’ assistant coach Deon Davids telling the team’s website that its “recipe” of “striving towards a common goal” can be applied to society as well rugby.South Africa overcame a New Zealand team which was reduced to 14 men for the majority of the match after captain Sam Cane was red carded in the first half.The win maintained the country’s perfect record in Rugby World Cup finals, securing a record fourth win to make the Springboks the most successful country in the competition’s history.“Siya Kolisi did this for us,” Springbok fan Tshidiso Mnisi told Reuters.“Everyone in the squad did it for us. We are together.We are proud as South Africans.”

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