Nothing left to chance in road to World Cup final

Several weeks ago, our national rugby team probably surprised even themselves when they trounced England 36-0 in their second match of the Rugby World Cup in France.

Several weeks ago, our national rugby team probably surprised even themselves when they trounced England 36-0 in their second match of the Rugby World Cup in France.

Remember that the English were going into this instalment of the Rugby World Cup as defending champions after having won the tournament in 2003.

The last time South Africa won the trophy was in 1995 on home soil.

The image of "old man" Madiba trooping onto the pitch wearing the famous green and gold shirt is etched into the collective memory of this nation.

We all remember the words of the legendary Francois Pienaar, who upon receiving the trophy, famously said: "The tournament was not won by 15 players on the field, but by the 40 million supporters."

That was powerful stuff at the time. We had just emerged out of apartheid and the political violence of the early 90s.

We had just ushered in the new non-racial democracy a year before. We were still finding our way as a new nation and the success on the rugby playing fields was a good tonic for the nation- building efforts of the time.

The euphoria was carried into the next year, 1996, when the national football team Bafana Bafana won the Africa Cup of Nations. The Madiba Magic was the talisman of our sporting teams.

The exploits of recent weeks evoke the same feeling of the 90s. The young men under the leadership and guidance of Monsieur Jake White have not lost a single match on their march to the finals, which coincidentally will pit them against the English.

Some of the comments in the British newspapers about South Africa and our team are derisive at the moment. The focus is on the extent of transformation in the Springboks as compared to the English team and that we are about to run out of steam.

But I remember a presentation by the same Meneer Jake White earlier this year, where he spoke about a well thought through plan for preparing his team.

He spoke about the training regime to build their physical strength and the results are there for us to see. The man definitely did his homework.

So it very pleasing that at this time, notwithstanding doubts and opinions of detractors, especially those opposed to transformation, that the young Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen are emerging as the stars of the show.

It also shows that the team spirit in the camp is good given the solidity, grit and creativity displayed so far.

Oom Os Du Randt continues to be the main inspiration of the team while John Smit provides the stable leadership required for such nail-biting events.

I, and many supporters of our national teams, am very happy that these young men have progressed to the finals.

It reminds all of us of what winning can do to our psyche as a people. You win a couple of times you get used to it. Winning becomes a habit as we are experiencing ourselves within the Organising Committee of the 2010 World Cup.

The recent Fifa inspection gave us proof of that when the Joburg, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Durban officials presented their plans to the Fifa/LOC inspection delegation.

The work we did in Durban around the preliminary draw and the marketing and media workshops was quite substantial and showcased our ability to work together as a winning team.

A few days away from possible glory at the Rugby World Cup, I am inspired by the most welcome habit of 'Die Bokke' as they try to win and to bring the glory they deserve back home.

Gees, Bafowethu. Mzansi is behind you 100 percent!

l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions, queries and more on 2010 e-mail