It’s nearly that time again. Rugby World Cup time. All rugby lovers know how, for at least a year or maybe even two leading up to a world cup, just about every conversation regarding rugby inevitably turns into a discussion about the contenders’ chances of winning. Basically as the conversations about or interest in the previous world cup start to wane the conversations about the upcoming one will start and sometimes these overlap. Well, in rugby mad circles anyway. Our house is a rugby mad little circle, always has been.
There’s never a problem for fellow rugby lovers to understand each other’s love of the game but it’s supporting the team from your country of birth after you’ve moved to another country that’s not always easy to verbalise. It’s one of those things that just IS. Because it’s in our blood. It’s not the same for everyone though. It never is. Some of us have split loyalties and some don’t because we’re all different and have had different experiences in life. Being a Springbok supporter in the Land Down Under (something I’ve written about before), brings about complex emotions of staunch support of the Boks but at the same time I feel almost guilty for it because this land has given us so much. Not that my support will ever change, it’s unwavering and unquestionable. It’s a part of who I am and I can’t change that. It doesn’t make me any less grateful for the opportunities this beautiful country presents us with on a daily basis, it just means I also embrace where I come from.
World Cup fever brings with it all the hopes and dreams of another win. We can all remember where we were when the Boks won the cup in 1995 (well, those of us over the age of about 30) and again in 2007 and we still reminisce about Joel Stransky’s winning drop goal. I also vividly remember being in Prince Albert in the Klein Karoo for a long weekend with friends in 1995 in the hotel pub amidst an eclectic mix of locals, watching the Springboks vs Canada game in Port Elizabeth on TV where the power went out in the stadium and there were no lights. In 2007 (living in Perth by this time) Bokkoors (Springbok fever) meant cutting our first holiday in Coral Bay short and coming home a day early to watch the semi-final.
We get our hopes up every time. We get up in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning and position ourselves in front of the TV with sleepy eyes but we wake up very quickly when the game starts and our heart rate goes up the tighter the game is. By the end of a close match we feel like we’ve run a marathon and if they lose we feel the disappointment so badly that we are down about it for days. Or longer, depending on how important the game was. If they win we are ecstatic. We also have a live-in expert should-have-been-ref in our house, so when the ref makes a mistake it can be heard by all around. There’s no chance the kids will be sleeping through any of those games because even the TV volume gets turned up to double the normal decibels when the excitement levels go up (which is for every match the Springboks play). So many times the kids have told Ironman that the ref can’t hear him but which one of us can keep quiet when there’s an injustice being done? We’ll sit on the edge of our seats, nibble on some biltong (or our nails), hold our breaths and maybe even move further and further away from the TV when the tension becomes unbearable. The matches will get recorded and replayed, the remote control might get hidden in case someone makes a mistake and messes up a recording and Tessa (one of our dogs) will again try her best to pacify anyone who might get vehemently upset. We might dig up old CD’s that only see the light of day every four years and listen to rugby songs to catch some “gees” (get in the spirit), we’ll deck the green and gold and get together with friends to watch games regardless of the time of day. It will be a time of high tension and emotion without a doubt.
And of one thing I’m sure: all Springbok supporters will be holding our collective (sleep deprived for us) breath for a few weeks and hope beyond hope that our beloved Boks can win that cup again. It will almost be like it’s strangely quiet as we wait in suspense similar to the way we wait to see in slow motion if a kick goes over between the poles, just a very drawn out bated breath and then there’ll either be a gutted outcry of pain or a jubilant roar of utter elation from Springbok supporters all over. Here’s to hoping for the latter. Go Bokke!