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How South Africa's Rugby World Cup win has sparked optimism in the Rainbow Nation

  • ITV News Africa Correspondent Penny Marshall explains the significance of the Springbok's win

South Africa's Rugby World Cup victory will have a significant impact in the Rainbow Nation.

The sight of a black Springbok captain lifting the trophy is about more than sport. It’s about national confidence and national identity - and it has re -energised South Africa and re-confirmed its hope of unity.

I watched in a club where white and black families hugged each other as the final whistle blew. And when Siya Kolisi, the black captain, lifted the trophy, many openly wept. This was a moment of history.

Many believe it’s significance surpasses the 1995 "Madiba" World Cup victory when President Mandela donned the shirt of the then-captain, Francois Pinaar. That day was all about hope the country could change.

Today was about proof that it has.

South Africa's Siya Kolisi lifts the Webb Ellis cup after South After win the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Credit: PA

Even before the Spingboks stormed to victory over England, there was optimism in the air.

The diversity of the national squad, and the remarkable journey of their captain, Siya Kolisi from township kid to national hero, had uplifted the nation.

Now the country has exploded with joy.

For once, pessimism over the economic inequality and crime have been swept aside by optimism about what a united South Africa represents.

South Africa soared to victory over England in Saturday's RWC final. Credit: PA

Don’t underestimate the significance of this moment. South Africa's national team used to represent segregation under apartheid.

For some the team was a symbol of white dominance. Often black South Africans would support anyone but the Boks.

But today the "born frees" - those born after apartheid - and those who remember the dark days of racial oppression were all united – black and white, rich and poor – once again invested in their Rainbow Nation and believing the national motto of this tournament: "Stronger Together".

South Africa – for today at least - once again belongs to the optimists who believe in its future.