In offices and pubs around the country, South African rugby fans are sharply divided into two camps. On one hand, we have the dreamers, the romantics, the hopeful misfits. They can be heard consoling the cynics with phrases like:
“Yes, but I’ve got a good feeling this year” and the oft-repeated “Shooo – but there’s a lot of depth in South African rugby these days, eh? I was just watching the Happy Valley under 11s playing against the Paarl girls’ team and man – this country has no shortage of quality fly-halves.”
This is the camp that thinks Morne Steyn is going to come right this year, that picking Fourie Du Preez is sign of Heyneke’s under appreciated genius and that when we click we’re going to “put fifty on the All Blacks”.
The other camp is a slightly older crowd. More jaded. They’re the crowd who saw both the recent Star Wars but still have the memory of the original trilogy which darkens their current experiences of cinema going. Theirs is a lonely existence. They’re often found reading nihilistic theology in the vein of Zizek and Nietzsche, reminding all who listen that if the Bok coach just were to listen to them and pick Heinrich Brussouw… oh but he won’t. They remember 1995 and what could have become of 1996. They remember 2007 and what could have become of 2008. At the slightest sign of a mistake they can be heard to blurt out, “I knew that oke was kak!”.
And never have I met someone standing in the middle. At least not in my pub, or in my office.
And so we Springbok fans beat on, like boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.