Not one commentator could resist going for the jugular. The wrecking ball was the preferred interrogation tool. A few months ago a colleague spoke of "shoulda, woulda and coulda”, driving many reflections. This is not necessarily wrong if a response comes from it; often nothing does.
The challenge I have with this weekend’s shock, is how shocked we really are as a country. It appears to go beyond the 80 minutes the national Rugby team spent on the field. It is as if we have had our entire identity wrapped up in this game and now that we’ve lost, our country is also rudderless. And we must ask why this is so.
There is no doubt that sport is a great unifier. Our country, in 1995 and 1996, experienced the nation building effect of doing well in sport. The 2007 Rugby World Cup Title was another. The 2010 World Cup hosted by us a further example. Each “win" experience has made us forget our troubles, re-energise our communities and made us feel we can overcome any odds. Our political leaders showed savvy and used this success to galvanise the nation and it made us feel invincible.
Twenty One years into our democracy, we know sporting success doesn’t bring long-term nation building success. It is simply a catalyst and something else must happen thereafter. What we not seeing this time around, is the political leadership in the country embracing the loss to Japan to rally the country. The country is being allowed to process the loss as another failure alongside a long list of failures. The loss, alongside Eskom’s woes, SAA flying without direction, PRASA buying oversized locomotives, the Post Office looking for a new identity and relevance, the SABC looking for its voice, our national soccer team not making significant progress, our slow switch from analogue to digital technologies, the lack of jobs, the unemployment rate, our slow economic growth, the stale political landscape and our sensitivity to race and language, has made us dejected. And the outpouring of this dejection has been offloaded onto Saturday’s loss against Japan. From the president to the jobless are offered as reasons why the team failed. It is absolutely ridiculous. Some reports in the media blame seagulls for crapping on the training ground in Brighton.
I’ve asked a few people what we should do to re-build our world cup campaign. No one could immediately offer solutions. I mean, It is clear a one-game loss doesn’t mean the tournament is lost. Our current state of depression is as if nothing can be done to reinvigorate our campaign.
Here is my take. We CAN still win this tournament. We CANNOT give up now. We MUST rally around the team as a country. And if we are not destined to win the 2015 tournament, we will dust ourselves off, learn the lessons and move forward with renewed vigour. Now bring on Samoa! We can do this! What doesn't kill us will make us stronger!