TOKYO, 29 Oct - Springbok legend Bryan Habana was an awesome sight in 2007, helping to power South Africa to the title in France with a record-equalling eight tries.
Current captain Siya Kolisi has revealed already how that victory inspired him as he watched on a communal television in a township tavern as a 16-year-old. "I know what it did for us back then. I have never seen people come together over sport (like that),” he said.
Now it is Kolisi who can inspire the next generation by beating England in the final at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.
Who says so? None other than the iconic Habana, who is in Japan watching the tournament as a media analyst.
"Siya has been an inspiration for many, not only rugby players, but people in South Africa," said Habana, who was speaking at a Rugby Introductory Day coaching clinic, above, at Waseda University Rugby Club in Tokyo.
“I was actually watching it in the tavern because I didn’t have a TV at home.” @Springboks captain Siya Kolisi was asked where he was when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 2007...#RWC2019 #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/FE5MZuF5GI— SuperSport 🏉🏆 (@SuperSportTV) October 27, 2019
"He had a very hard upbringing, where it wasn’t sometimes about the type of rugby boots that he could wear for training, but more about what food he was going to eat that night, because they were just so under-privileged.
“So, seeing his rise to the top and knowing that he could potentially be the first black South African captain to bring that Webb Ellis Cup to South Africa would be incredibly inspirational."
Habana, who was chosen as the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2007 after his starring role, revealed that he was, in turn, inspired by the Springboks’ epic 1995 triumph on home soil.
He has some advice for Rassie Erasmus’s team, too – "take your opportunities".
England are probable favourites for the decider at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday, based on their dominant display in the 19-7 victory over three-time champions the All Blacks last week, where they almost overwhelmed New Zealand in the physical stakes.
South Africa, though, are expected to provide a far tougher test in the forwards and Habana believes that the Boks can also find joy in their attacking play.
“It’s going to be an absolutely epic final. Two of the top four teams getting in there – England incredibly commanding in the manner in which they beat New Zealand on Saturday and South Africa doing what was needed to be done to get to a final,” said the man pictured above at RWC 2007 scoring one of his Springbok-record 67 tries in 124 tests, the second most in history behind the 69 career tries of Japan’s Daisuke Ohata.
“Having played a final and knowing how small the margins are, I’m hoping that South Africa will be on the other side of those fine margins, because they are going to come up against a pretty strong England side.
“Eddie-san (England coach Eddie Jones) will have some good plans, and hopefully we can overcome that.
“My heart will definitely be with South Africa. My head will think that if South Africa can utilise their opportunities – potentially like they played in the first 20 minutes against New Zealand at the beginning of the tournament – they really realistically stand a chance to actually win the game.”