When Nelson Mandela wore a Springbok shirt and cap at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg he made one of the most powerful statements of forgiveness, unity, inclusion, and healing ever offered.
Nevertheless, Mandela would undoubtedly enjoy the irony that the English team facing his South Africa in today’s World Cup final is the very epitome of those values though he may be less enamoured by the sum total of those parts.
The English team defies stereotypes in what seems a very powerful and important way at a moment when those who would divide are so active. Many English players are sons of immigrants, others are immigrants themselves.
The DNA of countries as diverse as Samoa, Ireland, Palestine, Tonga, Japan, Nigeria, Grenada and Guyana is present, barely under the surface. The players come from a range of social backgrounds, from the most challenging to the privileged. Some have used their rugby skills to secure academic scholarships.
Rivers of blood mingling in common purpose; what a victory for the human spirit, what a defeat for the haters.