Former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar has opened up about the moment between himself and late President Nelson Mandela after the 1995 World Cup final.
Pienaar joined 1995 Springbok teammates Joel Stransky and Os du Randt as well as former Springbok team manager Morne du Plessis in a talk with historian Dr Dean Allen as part of a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the final, which took place on 24 June.
One of the special moments of that day took place after the Springboks had beaten the All Blacks 15-12 thanks to an extra-time drop goal from Stranksy.
Late former South African president Nelson Mandela – clad in a No 6 Springbok jersey with a Springbok cap – thanked Pienaar for his service to the country before handing him the Webb Ellis trophy.
‘It is only when you reflect on this many years later – we actually said exactly the same words to one another,’ Pienaar recalled. ‘When Mr Mandela gave me the World Cup he said to me: “Francois, thank you for what you have done for the country” and I said to him: “No, Mr Mandela, thank you for what you have done for the country.”
‘And I said this publicly, I wished I had hugged him. I really wish I hugged him there, but I thought that was against protocol, you can’t do that.
‘The smile on his face, the smile when he saw the team and greeted the team was just something really special.
‘I am the luckiest sportsman alive. I really am because of that moment. It really was the most special moment. And I thank my team for it. The team was insane. That team was just the most insane team that I was lucky enough to captain.’
Photo: Ross Kinnaird – PA Images via Getty Images