The Hack: Bok fans have flown the flag

A picture emerged this week of Bryan Habana and Victor Matfield locked in conversation with Her Majesty the Queen during a visit to Buckingham Palace.

The internet jokesters quipped that Victor and the Queen were swopping stories from back in the day, taking a dig at the Springbok lock’s age.

Habana and Matfield were picked as the two players to represent the South African team during the visit to the royal residence and the two are more than worthy ambassadors not only for our national rugby team but also South Africa as a whole.

But there’s a bigger group of people who have flown the flag with aplomb, those who weren’t armed with boots and kit bags as they made their way into the various stadiums but instead had flag and their voices.

It’s become pretty clear that the the furore surrounding squad selection before the start of the showpiece and the divided opinions have been forgotten.

Instead the fans have rallied behind the Springboks and they’ve done an absolutely brilliant job of remembering the spirit of the World Cup.

That painful loss against Japan was soothed by reports that South African fans clapped and cheered the opposition fans as they got off the train in Brighton. Talk about sportsmanship.

And what about that rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika at St James’ Park in the aftermath of the Bok win against Scotland that popped up on Youtube? Goosebump stuff.

Even those who felt that the grass was possibly greener – as it’s to be expected in rainy England –  and emigrated have really rallied behind the team and I’d say it’s safe to say that a couple of them felt the pangs of homesickness.

For those not fortunate enough – or looking to quench their thirsts with beers bought with rands – to travel to the UK there has also been a resounding show of support with Bok jerseys worn with pride in shopping centres all over the place.

There’s even been interest shown by people who aren’t really into rugby as a I discussed with a friend at a wedding recently.

“I don’t really watch rugby to be honest but there’s just something about a World Cup that makes it so much more interesting,” he said.

That the speeches were timed to coincide with the second half of the fixture between South Africa and Samoa could be excused given that updates were provided by the MC.

As the Springboks head into the next phase of their campaign they’ll need that support just a little bit more as winning becomes a non-negotiable factor.

But win, lose or draw it’s the off-field happenings that have been one of the highlights of this tournament for South Africans.

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