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Social change and the Ruby World Cup: The power of sport

1995 saw a country come together in a way no one could have ever predicted. After years of struggle, dehumanisation of an entire race and painful segregation, South Africa saw unity for the first time. 1994 was a momentous year, one that gave South Africa freedom from the shackles of apartheid. In this freedom, the South African people feared what was to come – could a country and its people live peacefully, side by side, after such a torturous and malevolent history? Then came the 1995 Rugby World Cup… a sporting event that was to bring a nation together.

South Africa won the World Cup with aplomb. The country could be heard singing the South African anthem in unison, for the first time feeling hope for the future. Instead of acknowledging their differences, South Africans embraced what they had in common. The social impact of this moment was felt throughout the world. When Nelson Mandela walked onto the field in the wake of the win – the world roared with triumph.

This moment will always be remembered as the day sport revealed its true impact.

This story even made it all the way to Hollywood. The film ‘Invictus’ captured this powerful time in history. Yes, having this transformed to film is a great way to measure the impact of the story, but film and Hollywood aside – this is a story that can be measured in the hearts of South Africans. In fact, this story is immeasurable.