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Creating the new: Learning from the world champions that have inspired millions

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

by Francois Lombard

As we sit in the aftermath of what has truly been a world triumph, I simply can’t help but wonder what led the South African Springbok team, to rise from the ashes of 2016 (Ranked 6th in the world) to world cup champions (ranked 1st) in 2019. Across South Africa a sense of cohesion has erupted, much as was the case with previous milestones such as hosting the soccer world cup, embracing democracy and the loss of our precious icon Mr. Mandela. Regardless of the depth of knowledge about rugby, I have seen eyes filled with hope, not knowing the rules, but sharing in the optimism.

It is clear that the rugby world cup victory was so much more than just a rugby match, it was the hope, the dream and the unity that caught the nation’s attention and oh boy, how desperately we need it. For me, the most significant insight of this 6week journey, was the perspective that there is still hope to be found and that the term ‘unity’, which has so long eluded us, is actually possible.

I have always found it mesmerising that when a plane approaches the runway, the passengers attention is locked outside. They are fascinated by the busy roads, filled with rushing cars, miles and miles of houses, streets filled with people as small as ants. And then as silence fills the cabin, people all but get lost in their own thoughts thinking of what awaits them when their feet hit the terminal floor. For me perspective is like this, it is the ability to zoom out and create a new lens which opens up possibilities

Based on this belief of creating something new, I believe that there are valuable lessons that can be learned from our beloved Springboks:

1. Creating distance to truly see

Captain and inspirational leader, Siya Kolisi, summed it up perfectly when he said that they knew about every message, every good luck and every video that was posted in support of the Springboks and it was in that, that they realized that this was far greater than just a rugby game. This is supported by the Psychological distancing (Rene de Ruijter) phenomenon that has helped explain the inclination of where we as humans tend to go wrong. This psychological distance occurs when we experience something as NOT happening here, now and to ourselves. This aims to explain why we so easily have solutions to other’s problems but struggle to solve our own complexities.

As a result, it is the art of stepping back that leads to more creative solutions, brings a different perspective and embeds a greater sense of self confidence.



  • How would you solve this problem if you were giving advice to a friend?

  • How would Nelson Mandela (or another inspirational figure) solve your problem?


2. Creating a new definition

Springbok coach, Rassie Erasmus, responded to a question regarding the pressure of playing in a world cup final by referring to a discussion he had with his team. To summarise: pressure in South Africa is not having a job, having a loved one murdered or wondering where the next meal was going to come from, thus the rugby world cup final was not about pressure or the failing thereof but instead it was about the word hope. We often step into a space of thinking the world will end if we don’t get this done now, if we don’t succeed today or if we fail to reach the outcome by the world’s set out date.

As a result, it is the art of redefining my current reality that enables me to release the pressures of everyday life and simply put, release myself from external expectations.



  • If this doesn’t work out how I planned, will it truly be the end of the world?