Chasing the Sun

An excellent documentary on hope.

On Sunday the final episode of the five-part documentary just finished airing in South Africa and I was able to get a bootleg copy of the show. Now for those who know me, I love rugby and used to watch my Sharks every week religiously, while I was living I in South Africa. When I visit, I will always try and pay a pilgrimage to to the stadium and watch a match. What can I say, the place is full of fantastic memories for me (as well as the nightmare that was the 2007 SuperRugby final).

Transformation

I cannot say that I grew up a Boks fan, as when I was watching the game at a young age, the team did not represent the new South Africa that I was growing up in. The All Blacks, Wallabies and the French had always had more players that looked like me. As time went forward, transformation within South African Rugby was taking place. More players coming from townships and disenfranchised communities came to the top level and things started to change. That’s what won me over, as Springbok fan. As a Shark’s fan I had seen the rise of the Beast, JP Peterson and Odwa Ndungane, though I would be lying if I didn’t say that Honiball’s runs through the field inspired me in my younger days.

The Overview

I’m not going to go through each episode of the show, the TL:DR is go watch. The story starts at the most recent low point for South African Rugby where has a horrendous 2016 year where the Springboks lost to Italy, Argentina and massive defeats against the All Blacks. This was then followed in 2017 with a record loss against the All Blacks (57-0). In steps the ever charismatic Rassie Erasmus to take charge of the team and we follow the ups and downs of the team as we see how they overcome the odds to lift the World Cup in Japan.

The Rassie Show?

While I tuned in mainly to see how Rassie was as a coach and the backroom running of the side, as that side of the game is usually hidden. You definitely get a good insight on how he reads and analyses the situation. He definitely shines throughout the show and I would say that he has a leading role in the documentary, but he’s not the person I fell in love with while watching.

“Rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure. It is something that creates hope.”

Rassie Erasmus

The real stars are the players themselves and I don’t mean that because of what they have done on the pitch. The documentary shined a light on the players from a different angle that I had not seen before and added an extra dimension to them. It was like having the former Sharks players in Dad’s office growing up. I got to see them as more than heroes on the pitch and got to recognise their own personal challenges off the pitch to a higher degree. All in all, Makazole Mapimpi becomes a standout human being from the documentary from his professionalism on the pitch and his heart off the pitch. He becomes a holistic symbol for this Springbok team.

But with this group of players, we have Afrikaans guys, Xhosa guys, and guys from the farms, and we all have different challenges.

Siya Kolisi at the Laureus Awards Ceremony

The documentary has some moments of heartbreak and times where I had to pause to find a tissue. Other times you see Rassie and give a team talk or players talking about the pride to wear the green and gold. For 225 minutes you are taken through an emotional roller-coaster, however to the editors credit I never feel as though a moment has been wasted.

What’s next?

I hope that this isn’t the end of the story for the documentary. This story should be shared with more of the world as this story is inspiring. It can definitely be a shout for the show to go for an Emmy run as it as a fantastically produced show. More importantly, I hope that SA rugby continues to be an example of hope in the rainbow nation.

I am the product of Africa and her long-cherished view of rebirth that can now be realised so that all of her children may play in the sun.

Nelson Mandela

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