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South Africa's first black captain Siya Kolisi bearer of hope for Rainbow Nation

  • Video report by ITV News Africa Correspondent Penny Marshall

The beggars who tap on my car window at Johannesburg’s hectic intersections are a daily reminder that this is the most unequal place on earth.

But in the last few days the beggars have been joined by a new breed of traffic-dodging salesmen: beaming young men from the townships waving the South African flags they are selling high above the lines of traffic in anticipation of tomorrow’s match.

Every corner of South Africa has been touched by the excitement of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final.

For this country the moment is huge, for this continent it matters too.

All of Africa is behind South Africa and out in front is Siya Kolisi, a young man who started playing rugby on a dry and dusty road in a township.

The pitch Kolisi started to play rugby on. Credit: ITV News

As the Springbok’s first black captain, Kolisi carries the weight of the Rainbow Nation on his shoulders.

He has become the standard bearer of hope here:

  • Hope that impoverished kids like him from townships can make it - against all the odds.
  • Hope that being born unequal in this country is no longer a life sentence.
South Africa's Siya Kolisi is tackled by Wales' Gareth Anscombe and Aaron wainwright during the Autumn International. Credit: PA

If Kolisi lifts the trophy tomorrow it will for many here be a more unifying moment than when Nelson Mandela donned the No.6 shirt of captain Francois Pinaar after South Africa won the World Cup on home turf in 1995.

That was a moment of "Madiba magic" which brought hope that racial unity and equality were on the horizon.

If Kolisi lifts it, it will be a moment of proof that change has come.