Francois Pienaar

Bring back those good times

2005-07-07 09:35
For all your bid information visit the official bid site at <a href = http://www.sa2011.co.za class=tenred target=_blank>www.sa2011.co.za</a>

For all your bid information visit the official bid site at www.sa2011.co.za

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Rugby World Cup bid CEO Francois Pienaar writes to News24 in a regular open letter.

Dear News24,

It is now just over a week since the Springbok Class of 1995 gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Rugby World Cup victory, and I am sure my memories of this reunion will last as long as my vivid recollections of the 1995 RWC final, itself.

We had gathered in uncertainty: how would we respond to each other; would we still get along; would the spirit have survived the intervening years?

I was certainly looking forward to seeing my old team-mates again, but I wasn't sure of the answer to any of these questions.

Through a private dinner on the Tuesday night, at the Touchdown restaurant overlooking Ellis Park, I still wasn't sure.

We were a family

Everyone was polite, everyone as friendly... but we were much more than polite and friendly in 1995. We were a family. That's why we won.

On the Wednesday, the day of the black tie banquet at the Sandton Convention Centre, we ran through a series of rehearsals, players went their own separate ways. I still didn't know.

We eventually assembled together - at least, 24 of the 28 players (Os du Randt and Naka Drotske had playing commitments, Johan Roux and Gavin Johnson couldn't attend) - in a private room just as 1 000 guests were arriving for the official function.

So there we stood, in black tie, some looking 10 years older, everyone feeling 10 years older and yet, somehow, still a team.

I wondered whether I should say anything. I was their captain then, but I am not their captain now. I wasn't sure how anybody would react.

On the spur of the moment, I called the guys into a huddle. We looked into each other's eyes, and each of us immediately knew the fires were still burning.

We downed a few cold cans; we sang the old song..."The Springbok boys are happy etc. etc."... and, amazingly, we were right back in 1995, back together, ready to take on the world all over again.

Spirit of cameraderie

This enduring spirit of cameraderie is what the 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup gave 25 Springbok rugby players. Of course, the tournament gave 42 millions South Africans much more: a focus for national unity; a reason to celebrate, together; a cause for national pride.

The strength of these memories is a major factor in SA Rugby's determination to secure the right to host the IRB Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Yes, we believe we will have the ideal infrastructure and environment to stage a world class, unforgettable major international sporting event.

Yes, we believe we will be able to raise record funds for world rugby. Yes, we believe we will measurably grow the game.

In addition, remembering 1995, we just can't wait to do it all over again.

Best,

Francois

  • Francois Pienaar is the Rugby World Cup bid CEO, visit the official bid site at www.sa2011.co.za

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