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How a terrifying rampaging giant changed the world

The world’s top rugby teams are fighting it out for the biggest prize in the game. No matter who wins, millions of dollars will change hands in sponsorship and payments.

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Money, money everywhere—what a contrast to the first time an African nation won the trophy 16 years ago in the twilight of the amateur game.

February 1980. South African rugby legend and Springbok rugby captain Morne du Plessis.

On 24 June 1995, a collection of South African schoolteachers, estate agents and business professionals achieved something very rare; they won the Rugby World Cup on home soil at the first time of asking. What a different game it was just over 16 years ago. At the time, toplevel rugby in the world was run as an amateur sport with players being paid under the table through so-called ‘shamateurism’. On the field, the forwards were a heavy-footed collection of giants and portly gentlemen, who pummeled each other in the scrums and loose, while the backs were a group of lithe speedsters who claimed all the glory. Modestly built men such as Wilf Rosenberg and Hugh Bladen were masters of the sidestep and looked it up the middle’, in the manner of England’s Mike Tindall, France’s

Mathieu Bastareaud or the imposing All Black No 12—Ma’a Nonu. That golden tournament in 1995 will be remembered for Mandela in a Springbok jersey, a last-gasp winning kick from Joel Stransky and a juggernaut of a man called Jonah Lomu.

Here was a 20-year-old man from New Zealand. He was 1.96 meters and around 120 kilograms and yet played on the wing, where he struck fear into the hearts of those who dared get in his way. One Springbok said the mere sight of Lomu striding from the team bus listening to music through oversized headphones put the fear of God into him. Lomu arguably won the semi-final for the All Blacks by shellacking England, in the process bulldozing their tough fullback, Mike Catt, to score four tries in a 45-29 victory. The sport had rarely seen such an athlete and Lomu’s explosive impact pushed the game towards professionalism within a year.

Cut to 2011: the Springboks are in New Zealand to defend the Webb Ellis trophy and a small player in the backline is a rarity. There are now more like four or five ‘Jonahs’ on a team. Players spend five days a week, eight hours a day, working at their game. Highly paid fitness experts, sports psychologists and doctors all play a huge part in preparing players for peak performance and for this there is one requirement—money. Compared to 1995, the present day South African Rugby Union (SARU) is awash with money. According to its financial report for 2010, SARU had R102 million ($14.6 million) in cash reserves, with R82 million ($11.7 million) of these cash reserves attributable to deferred broadcasting and sponsorship revenue.

Television has put many times more money into the coffers of rugby and its players than gate receipts ever could. On top of that, the South African team has three hefty sponsors: Absa, Canterbury and BMW are all pouring millions into the game. Former Springbok captain Morne

Du Plessis, who played from 1971 to 1980 and was also the manager of thevictorious ’95 South African team, believes that although players these days are well paid, the salaries are nowhere near those of professional footballers. “It’s a different game now. It’s a profession. It’s from 08h00 to 17h00— even more. We were amateurs, we practised twice a week,” says Du Plessis. “If you look at footage from my day, it looks like a different sport now. The skills today and the strength is something to behold, the guys today are just so powerful. Professionalism and money in the sport has made it a better sport.”

24 Jun 1995: South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar receives the William Webb Wellis Trophy from President Nelson Mandela after they defeated New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup Final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandatory Credit: Dave Rogers /Allsport

Looking to the World Cup, Du Plessis, who led the Springboks, is optimistic about the defending champions’ chances. “Don’t take anything that happened in the Tri-Nations as a marker for the World Cup. There are probably three important matches at the World Cup—the quarter final, the semi-final and the final. To be ready on those days will be key. I think we will go in as underdogs but I believe it’s the best position we play from. “I think we can do it. We’ll be up against the Australians and the All Blacks, the Irish team is to be reckoned with and England is also a good team. There are no real favorites,” adds Du Plessis. The final will be on October 23. For South Africa it is the chance of retaining the trophy and winning it for a third time in the land that bore the mighty Jonah Lomu. Win or lose, the Springboks will return home with bigger bank balances than the heroes of ’95 could ever dream of.

New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu is tackled by South African scrumhalf Joost Van der Westhuizen during the Rugby World Cup final played against New Zealand June 24. On left is South African centre Hennie le Roux, on right No 8 Mark Andrews

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30 under 30

Applications Open for FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2020

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FORBES AFRICA is on the hunt for Africans under the age of 30, who are building brands, creating jobs and transforming the continent, to join our Under 30 community for 2020.


JOHANNESBURG, 07 January 2020: Attention entrepreneurs, creatives, sport stars and technology geeks — the 2020 FORBES AFRICA Under 30 nominations are now officially open.

The FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list is the most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we are on the hunt for 30 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 spanning these categories: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

Each year, FORBES AFRICA looks for resilient self-starters, innovators, entrepreneurs and disruptors who have the acumen to stay the course in their chosen field, come what may.

Past honorees include Sho Madjozi, Bruce Diale, Karabo Poppy, Kwesta, Nomzamo Mbatha, Burna Boy, Nthabiseng Mosia, Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, Henrich Akomolafe, Davido, Yemi Alade, Vere Shaba, Nasty C and WizKid.

What’s different this year is that we have whittled down the list to just 30 finalists, making the competition stiff and the vetting process even more rigorous. 

Says FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil: “The start of a new decade means the unraveling of fresh talent on the African continent. I can’t wait to see the potential billionaires who will land up on our desks. Our coveted sixth annual Under 30 list will herald some of the decade’s biggest names in business and life.”

If you think you have what it takes to be on this year’s list or know an entrepreneur, creative, technology entrepreneur or sports star under 30 with a proven track-record on the continent – introduce them to FORBES AFRICA by applying or submitting your nomination.

NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS CRITERIA:

Business and Technology categories

  1. Must be an entrepreneur/founder aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Should have a legitimate REGISTERED business on the continent
  3. Business/businesses should be two years or older
  4. Nominees must have risked own money and have a social impact
  5. Must be profit generating
  6. Must employ people in Africa
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Sports category

  1. Must be a sports person aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be representing an African team
  3. Should have a proven track record of no less than two years
  4. Should be making significant earnings
  5. Should have some endorsement deals
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Creatives category

  1. Must be a creative aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be from or based in Africa
  3. Should be making significant earnings
  4. Should have a proven creative record of no less than two years
  5. Must have social influence
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Your entry should include:

  • Country
  • Full Names
  • Company name/Team you are applying with
  • A short motivation on why you should be on the list
  • A short profile on self and company
  • Links to published material / news clippings about nominee
  • All social media handles
  • Contact information
  • High-res images of yourself

Applications and nominations must be sent via email to FORBES AFRICA journalist and curator of the list, Karen Mwendera, on [email protected]

Nominations close on 3 February 2020.

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Sport

The Springboks And The Cup Of Good Hope

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After their epic win beating England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan on November 2, the Springboks returned home to South Africa, undertaking a nation-wide tour, in an open-top bus, holding high the Webb Ellis Cup. In this image, in the township of Soweto, they pass the iconic Vilakazi Street with throngs of screaming, cheering residents and Springbok fans lining the street. The sport united the racially-divided country. For the third time in history, the South African national rugby team was crowned world champions.

Image by Motlabana Monnakgotla

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Déjà vu: South Africa Back to Winning

Our Publisher reflects on the recent Springbok victory in Yokohoma, Japan

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Rugby World Cup 2019, Final: England v South Africa Mtach viewing at Nelson Mandela Square

By Rakesh Wahi, Publisher
FORBES AFRICA

Rugby is as foreign to me as cricket is to the average American. However, having lived in South Africa for 15 years, there is no way to avoid being pulled into the sport. November 2, 2019, is therefore a date that will be celebrated in South Africa’s sporting posterity. In many ways, it’s déjà vu for South Africans; at a pivotal time in history, on June 24, 1995, the Springboks beat the All Blacks (the national rugby team of New Zealand) in the final of the World Cup. The game united a racially-divided country coming out of apartheid and at the forefront of this victory was none other than President Nelson Mandela or our beloved Madiba. In a very symbolic coincidence, 24 years later, history repeated itself.

South Africans watched with pride as Siya Kolisi lifted the gold trophy in Yokohama, Japan, as had Francois Pienaar done so 24 years ago in Johannesburg. My mind immediately reflected on this extremely opportune event in South Africa’s history.

The last decade has not been easy; the country has slipped into economic doldrums from which there seems to be no clear path ahead. The political transition from the previously corrupt regime has not been easy and it has been disheartening to see a rapid deterioration in the economic condition of the country. The sad reality is that there literally seems to be no apparent light at the end of the tunnel; with blackouts and load-shedding, a currency that is amongst the most volatile in the world, rising unemployment and rising crime amongst many other issues facing the country.

Rakesh Wahi, Publisher Forbes Africa

Something needed to change. There was a need for an event to change this despondent state of mind and the South African rugby team seems to have given a glimmer of hope that could not have come at a more opportune time. As South African flags were flying all over the world on November 2, something clicked to say that there is hope ahead and if people come together under a common mission, they can be the change that they want to see.

Isn’t life all about hope? Nothing defies gravity and just goes up; Newton taught us that everything that goes up will come down. Vicissitudes are a part of life and the true character of people, society or a nation is tested on how they navigate past these curve balls that make us despair. As we head into 2020, it is my sincere prayer that we see a new dawn and a better future in South Africa with renewed vigor and vitality.

Talking about sports and sportsmen, there is another important lesson that we need to take away. Having been a sportsman all my life, I have had a belief that people who have played team sports like cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey etc make great team players and leaders. However, other sports like golf, diving and squash teach you focus. In all cases, the greatest attribute of all is how to reset your mind after adversity. While most of us moved on after amateur sports to find our place in the world, the real sportspeople to watch and learn from are professionals. It is their grit and determination.

My own belief is that one must learn how to detach from a rear view mirror. You cannot ignore what is behind you because that is your history; you must learn from it. Our experiences are unique and so is our history. It must be our greatest teacher. However, that’s where it must end. As humans, we must learn to break the proverbial rear view mirror and stop worrying about the past. You cannot change what is behind you but you can influence and change what is yet to come.

I had the good fortune of playing golf with Chester Williams (former rugby player who was the first person of color to play for the Springboks in the historic win in 1995 and sadly passed away in September 2019) more than once at the SuperSport Celebrity Golf Shootout.

Chester played his golf fearlessly; perhaps the way he led his life. He would drive the ball 300 meters and on occasion went into the woods or in deep rough. Psychologically, as golfers know, this sets you back just looking at a bad lie, an embedded or unplayable ball or a dropped shot in a hazard. For a seasoned golfer, it is not the shot that you have hit but the one that you are about to hit. Chester has a repertoire of recovery shots and always seemed to be in the game even after some wayward moments. There is a profound lesson in all of this. You have to blank your mind from the negativity or sometimes helplessness and bring a can do and positive frame of reference back into your game (and life). Hit that recovery shot well and get back in the game; that’s what champions do.

We need to now focus our attention on the next shot and try and change the future than stay in the past.

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