Siya Kolisi raised the Webb Ellis Cup to the Yokohama night sky, surrounded by his wonderful troops in green after they had not just beaten England but delivered perhaps the most complete performance by any side to dominate a final, we had the exclamation mark that Rugby World Cup 2019 truly deserved.
Twenty-four years since Francois Pienaar had first lifted the trophy after the Mandela final, the moment that signalled the birth of South Africa’s Rainbow Nation, the old No.6 was up on his feet in the stands of the International Stadium. He cheered as he watched the latest captain, a black boy born just one day before the repeal of apartheid, stand proudly as an inspiring new symbol of South African unity.
"We have so many problems in our country, a team like this - we come from different backgrounds, different races - came together with one goal. I really hope we have done that for South Africa, to show that we can pull together if we want to achieve something,” said Kolisi in an eloquent post-match address on the pitch.
In 2007, Kolisi had to watch on TV in a township tavern in the Eastern Cape as South Africa beat England in the Paris final because he had no television at home. "There was a stage when Siya didn’t have food to eat and, yes, that is the captain who led South Africa to hold this Cup. That is what Siya is,” Erasmus reminded us.
Here he was now, on his 50th appearance, leading from the front, making 10 perfect tackles and galvanising those tireless men around him to write their own lore with a performance of power and precision.
Men like his match-winner Makazole Mapimpi, a dazzling winger who scorched to the try that finally shattered England’s resistance. Here is a man who everyone in his side knows has suffered so much pain, paying tribute to his friend, University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was murdered recently.
Mapimpi’s mother, Eunice, died in a car accident, his sister passed away too from illness while his brother, Zolani, lost a leg after being electrocuted and he, too, died. In a way, these Springboks, all so close, must have felt like his new family.