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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007, 02:02 GMT 03:02 UK
Rugby triumph unites South Africa
By Peter Greste
BBC News, Johannesburg

Celebrations in Johannesburg
The Springboks' win was a massive boost for the Rainbow Nation
At the final whistle in the Stade de France, millions of Springbok fans across South Africa erupted into euphoric cheers.

Parties in cities, towns and townships burst into song with the traditional Zulu Shosholoza, a spontaneous expression of collective joy.

At the square in the Montecasino entertainment complex in Johannesburg, organisers had set up a huge television screen and 3,000 seats, converting the piazza into a venue they dubbed "Boktown".

It became a green and gold-bedecked mecca for diehard Springbok fans.

Powerful omen

Even before the match, crowds were brimming with confidence.

South Africa's most loved elder statesman, Nelson Mandela, appeared at the balcony overlooking the square to rapturous applause.

Nelson Mandela is the father of the nation, so when we saw him we said: 'Oh my goodness, it's in the bag'
South Africa fan

He acknowledged the crowd without taking the microphone, but his appearance alone was enough to inspire the fans.

Most saw him as a powerful omen. It was Mr Mandela who last handed the Springboks the Webb Ellis trophy in 1995 and the crowd believed he would help them bring it back again.

"Nelson Mandela is the father of the nation, so when we saw him we said: 'Oh my goodness, it's in the bag'," said one fan.

Pre-match confidence

From the moment the team scored their first penalty goal and pulled ahead of the English, few South Africans doubted the outcome.

A nervous fan in Johannesburg before the final whistle
Fans nervously awaited the final whistle at the Stade de France

The crowd at Montecasino was nervous as well.

In truth, this was the result almost all South Africans expected.

The Springboks' earlier 36-0 drubbing of England in the preliminary rounds prompted commentators to warn that perhaps that greatest enemy was complacency.

But the win was no less sweet for all their pre-match confidence.

Even before the game, analysts acknowledged that although it was just another rugby contest, to this country it would always mean much more than that.


South Africa's democracy is barely 13 years old and the racial divisions left by Apartheid still run through this country.

So, although the national team is hardly a model of integration with only three black players, it was a world-class victory around which all South Africans could unite in celebrating.

Bryan Habana and Percy Montgomery celebrate
We're united as black and white in this country
South Africa fan

From the mostly white, upper-class suburb of Sandton in Johannesburg to townships like Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town, all hailed the black winger, Bryan Habana, and the heroic kicking of the white full-back, Percy Montgomery, and as one they celebrated the victory.

"We're united as black and white in this country," said one jubilant black fan.

"We were all behind our team and we always knew they would win it."

Of course it does not mean that South Africa's problems are over, but it does prove, in the words of one commentator speaking before the game, that if the nation pulls together as a team, it is capable of being the best in the world.

And even if it is only to be for a day or so, race in South Africa really does not matter at all.

Have you been celebrating South Africa's victory? How and where were you celebrating?

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