On the eve of the 2019 World Cup, it’s worth remembering how late Bok great Chester Williams inspired a generation of players and fans, writes former Springbok STEFAN TERBLANCHE.
Williams’ recent death is another terribly sad loss for the rugby fraternity.
Whether or not you support Western Province and the Stormers, Newlands Stadium in full voice is one of the loudest and most special places to play rugby.
As a young boy, it was an absolute dream to go and watch your heroes play on a Saturday. And for the kids, including myself, growing up in the Western Cape, it was incredibly memorable going to Newlands.
For me, stadiums always held that sense of freedom to let your imagination run wild, which is so important when growing up. Even running around the small school stadium or Swellendam Rugby Club, I could always envision a full house and the crowd calling my name as I lined up to take that final kick to win the game against the old enemy, the All Blacks.
Growing up in a small town and with a single mom, we hardly had the opportunity and the means to go to Newlands on a Saturday. But that never made any difference to my views, dreams and attitude towards the game of rugby I loved.
Over the last few days, I’ve found myself again reminded of how Chester helped us to dream, while also remembering why we started playing the game we love.
Growing up in the Western Cape, Chester dreamed of playing rugby for his beloved Western Province in an era when rugby was still heavily divided and not everyone had equal opportunities to play the game.
Playing for Western Province was one thing, but to then go on and play for the Boks in a World Cup-winning final was surely too good to be true.
Chester represented all our hopes of being world champions for the first time, but he also carried the dreams of many that were hidden far away from most of us growing up. He carried this responsibility with him and inspired a nation.
It’s time to start dreaming again right now. We can dream about full stadiums, and the noise and roar of the crowd. We need kids to dream again about playing for the Boks and we as a nation need to dream about bigger things.
We need to dream and to believe that we can win the World Cup again, starting this weekend against the very team the Boks beat when we became world champions for the first time ever in 1995.
This weekend we take on the All Blacks, and a very interesting fact is that back in 1995, we faced the then reigning World Champions, Australia, in the group stage.
Then in 2007, the Boks again faced the reigning World Champions, England, in the pool stage before going on to be crowned the new champs.
Chessie, thanks for reminding us again to dream, and to dream big. As a nation we really need the power of sport, and rugby in this instance, to unite us again.
*Terblanche is a former Springbok who earned 37 Test caps. He is now the CEO of the SA Rugby Legends Association and will serve as a member of World Rugby’s judicial committee at the 2019 World Cup. His column was brought to you by Tuttle Insurance Brokers.