Two days prior to the Rugby World Cup final, there was an instance that perfectly captured the team spirit inside the Springboks and played a major role in their 12–11 victory over the All Blacks.
It was a video of Malcolm Marx and Makazole Mapimpi, two wounded players, being welcomed by their teammates in the hotel lobby in Paris.
During the Durban leg of the Boks’ trophy tour on Saturday, a weary Mapimpi talked to the media. He expressed his gratitude for the sincere greeting but did not find it surprising.
“We are siblings,” he declared. “I was not shocked when the boys wrapped their arms around me since we had been friends for a long time, but it was still incredible. A tear welled up in my eye.
“We engage in mutual play… We’ll do all in our power to support the squad, and we’ll never forget the wounded players for their contributions.
The family setting dates back to 2018.
According to Mapimpi, the team’s cohesiveness has been nurtured by the coaching staff since 2018.
“The connection between all of us involved is very important to Coach Jacques (Nienaber) and Rassie (Erasmus),” the wing stated.
“Rugby is a team sport; competing on your own will not succeed. We compete for each other, and if an individual withdraws due to an injury, they will not be overlooked.
“As long as I can perform my duties to the best of my abilities, I will not stop. I’m eager to play for the Sharks once more because my cheekbone is almost fully recovered.
Although we have been concentrating on it for the past four years, in a way it is a dream from which we do not want to wake up.
In order to defend the cup, we set a target and have been working really hard to achieve it internally, said Mapimpi.
It may not always be known by the general public, but we have been talking about this for a while.
In order to ensure that a sizable roster of players would be prepared when we arrived in France, the coaches have always informed us that selections have been made. The strategy was known to us.
Ready for action again
The 33-year-old stated that the team’s attitude has evolved throughout the course of the week as the trophy tour comes to an end—East London is the team’s next stop on Sunday.
“The lads are worn out, and while it will be good to relax, they are already considering the next game. We like playing rugby, and I can’t wait to get back into the game and ready to play for the Sharks.
Mapimpi stated that he has no intention of leaving the Boks.
He said, “They guys have been talking about over the week and everybody is very keen to continue,” and then grinned and asked, “Who would want to stop now?”
Mapimpi, who made history in 2019 by being the first South African to score a try in a World Cup final against England in Japan, claimed he did not spend his week in Paris before to the 2023 championship game touring.
“There’s no chance,” he grinned. “What’s crucial about the Springboks is that the players who aren’t participating are just as important—if not more so—than the players who are.
“I told the men what I knew about the All Blacks from my own experience, which was my contribution when we first started.
Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe, the lads beginning on the wings, needed to know everything there was to know about the people they would be facing.
“There is never a dull moment when you play for the Boks; your only job is to make sure the guys who are starting are ready to play.”
* The Fireside Springbok: Untold Stories That Make The Boks Great is written by Independent Media Senior Rugby Writer Mike Greenaway.