Springboks

Rassie breaks down in tears recalling Mapimpi's tough upbringing

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Springbok Makazole Mapimpi celebrates with Faf de Klerk and Lukhanyo Am after scoring his teams first try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa.
Springbok Makazole Mapimpi celebrates with Faf de Klerk and Lukhanyo Am after scoring his teams first try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa.
(Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
  • Rassie Erasmus couldn't hide his emotions when revealing a conversation he had with Makazole Mapimpi ahead of the Rugby World Cup final.
  • Mapimpi's tough upbringing, losses of his mother, brother and sister, touched many South Africans, including his coach.
  • Mapimpi became the first Springbok to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final on this day last year.

Springbok director of rugby Rassie Erasmus couldn't hide his emotions when talking about the impact Makazole Mapimpi's story and upbringing had on his and the victorious team.

Speaking in the Chasing the Sun documentary, Erasmus detailed how he asked Mapimpi why the winger, who scored South Africa's first try at a World Cup final against England, didn't have pictures of family members on his jersey number like the rest of the players.

Mapimpi, who lost his mother, older brother and sister before he came into prominence as a rugby player, told his coach that he didn’t have anyone's picture to emblazon on there.

"On the back of your jersey, there are numbers where you could have photos of family members. He only had photos of himself," Erasmus said.

"He didn’t have anyone else, and I asked 'why are you doing this?' He said: 'I've got nobody'.

"You know his brother died, his mother died, he doesn’t have a photo. He doesn't play for the one thing; he just has a massive heart. Massive heart."

Mapimpi, who grew up in Twecu, part of rural Tsholomnqa, just outside East London, had the hardest route of all the stars that brought South Africa its third Rugby World Cup title.

His story, one of a rural kid that didn't go to a well-off traditional rugby school, nor made any of the youth level milestones such as Craven Week or Junior Springboks, resonated with a lot of South Africans from underprivileged upbringings.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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