During Apartheid, Rugby symbolized the divide between white and black South Africans. The South African Springbocks was a team made up of only white Afrikaners, and its fans were also white Afrikaners. Black South Africans would go to the Springbock games and cheer for the opponents. It would give the blacks satisfaction seeing the whites, who harshly mistreated them, get beaten. After apartheid, Nelson Mandela changed the symbol of Rugby from separation to unification. A black player was added to the team, and Mandela encouraged black South Africans to support the team they once booed. He had his country host the Rugby World Cup which unified South Africa because the Afrikaners and Black South Africans came together with a common goal, to win the World Cup.
After apartheid, South Africa faced many challenges. The black South Africans were hesitant to forgive the Afrikaners for years of injustice and although the government outlawed discrimination, it didn't change all whites' deep seeded racism. Mandela used rugby to help overcome these obstacles. Rugby was his way of symbolizing the new South Africa, and he encouraged both whites and blacks to support the sport. The black and white South Africans came together in support of their countries Rugby team.
Winning the Rugby world cup was essential to unifying South Africa because it symbolized South Africa's unification. If the Springbocks were to loose, it may have made the South African's give up in trying to unite their country. The loss would have also said that much like the team, South Africa was destined to fail. The players became more than just players during the Rugby world cup. By winning the Rugby World Cup they became heroes. The players fought to win, not only for personal ambitions, but to show South Africans it was time to unite the country. Not only were they the pride of their country, but they showed that with determination, you can overcome any obstacle, including racism.
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