The ‘Springbok spirit’ won South Africa the World Cup according to expert

Colin Newboult
Siya Kolisi holds Rugby World Cup after Springboks beat All Blacks.

Siya Kolisi holds Rugby World Cup after the Springboks beat the All Blacks in the global showpiece's final in Paris in 2023.

A French professor specialising in high performance believes that South Africa’s “spirit” and “loyalty” were key factors behind their Rugby World Cup triumph.

Pierre Dantin insisted that the team’s togetherness, as well as their ability to put egos aside, allowed them to emerge triumphant in 2023.

Those traits were very much in evidence in the knockout stages as the Springboks defeated France, England and New Zealand by one-point scorelines.


“They weren’t the favourites,” Dantin said on the BastaShow, with ex-French international Mathieu Bastareaud.

“But you can feel that this team has an inner drive. Watching the films of their personal lives, it is first and foremost built on history, their origins, the pride of allegiance, and the strong feeling of being on a mission for a country.

“Listen to (Siya) Kolisi. You get the impression you’re listening to one of Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren in his approach. He is what he is. Cheslin Kolbe is like that too. That’s the Springbok spirit.”

South Africa became the first team to win the World Cup four times and followed the All Blacks in being the second side to defend their title.

With Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus providing an impressive brains trust, and Siya Kolisi an inspiring leader both on and off the field, the Springboks had an incredible leadership group.


But it was the individuals’ self-effacing approach which allowed the team to come together and create an outstanding culture.

“What made them win was also the strength of what they are and what they are not, and how they have to adapt to others,” he said.

“Tactical battle, the art of trickery, means understanding what the other is going to do when he tries to adapt to you. It’s about timing ahead, not timing behind. The fact that you have a [seven-one split on the] bench already creates doubt in minds.

“But above all, it’s about absolute loyalty. If Kolisi hasn’t been good enough in a match, he’ll sit out. All of them, whatever their reputation, whatever social representation we have of them, are all first and foremost Springboks players.

“That’s something to think about. It avoids putting crazy pressure on each other and having a smarter saver. What saves you in rugby is the team.”

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