There is a nasty saying which we all know by heart, “Show me a good loser, and I will show you a loser” and it holds as true today as when it was first written. Let me be clear that I am not a rugby fan…meaning you will not find me wearing a rugby shirt supporting any team (many of the obese supporters and their female companions really look like twats) or jump up and down during a match roaring in support. I just don’t have the personality to show such emotions in public (a pity, I am sure) but a good one in court or negotiations.
However, I do have some pride left in me and grew up believing, not thinking, I knew this to be fact, that the Springboks cannot be beaten on a rugby field. Not by the English, the British Lions and certainly not by the All Blacks from New Zealand. We knew, obviously, they were cheaters well able to substitute rugby players with boxers and trip rampaging Springboks from behind. And this was seen as a chance to show them we will still win and to be fair, we did. Up to 1994 we won a lot more than what we lost. History, my favourite subject, will show this and no arguments about it. We won and so it is and our forwards created a style of grinding rugby feared by the world.
But now something has gone terribly wrong in South African rugby. Yesterday the local newspaper shouted (headlines, first page, my word) that it is “David versus Goliath” next week when the Springboks take on the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-finals. I am still in shock. Where in the world have you ever read that a Springbok rugby team, the pride of the Afrikaner and the rest of the nation (doubtful but whatever) is seen as a “little David OMG feel sorry for me” before they even go on the field? I had to read the article twice to comprehend they really see it like that, no chance and perhaps not to lose by too bad a margin, that to them will be entirely satisfactory. Fine, so we look at the Springbok coach who stated he has no problems with being the underdog against any team. Really? Where is Springbok pride I wonder? Where is South African pride because the two are linked?
To me the above is a loser’s attitude and if you want to have such attitudes in accepting less than the best you will become a loser, I am sorry to say it so bluntly to you. It is pathetic. We should be saying, “Well, they are a good team, the All Blacks, hard bastards and cheaters no doubt, but by God we will make them work for every ball, every yard and we will constantly attack them where it is least expected! We will play hard and fair and cheat where needs be but we will win and so it is written. Come on Saturday, we are going to show you who is who in this zoo!” (And to the fly half, stop kicking the damn ball away and start running at them, keep the ball with the forwards and get the forwards out of the backline, they are too slow to do any good, blah.)
We can see this is a disease and it is everywhere. Mediocracy is the norm these days and standards are dropped dramatically. We had finally become just another African country with no pride and a feel sorry for me attitude. No more rampaging Ratels and Caspirs, no more showing the middle finger to the world for decades and emerging victorious. No, now we cringe and apologise for losing against Japan!
Someone asked me the other day, what is good about South Africa? To my shame I had to think long and hard of something good as I see nothing good, I see corruption, failure, nepotism, political shenanigans and general doom and gloom on the future. Am I wrong? Have we not lost our pride somewhere or do I just don’t see it? Are we really only capable of moaning & groaning and being the “underdog” apologising like a demented Canadian before we even start the battle or the new day? How did this happen and how long, how many generations before we forget what we once were and can be again? I don’t care who wins the coming clash, it brings no money or any other benefit to me, but if you want to lose, then lose like a man. At least try.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.