Hypothetical letter from Francois Pieenar to Nelson Mandela.

November 1995

Dear Mr Mandela,

We did it! On the behalf of the Springboks I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in us. Never in my wildest dream would have I expected you to wear our colours let alone support us and remember our names.At first, when you asked me to join you I was apprehensive and nervous, I though to myself what could the president possibly want from me?But now it has become clear to why you wanted to see me. Me and the team have realised that rugby is bigger than just a game.It is a symbol for uniting our nation. What before separated our nation has now brought us closer. Closer to the the potential of our beautiful rainbow nation.
Because of you, everyone one in South Africa was supporting the Springboks.For the first time in my career, I have truly felt my whole country behind me. No longer do I see citizens of our country support the other team out of hate. We have all made mistakes in the past but thank you for showing the whole country how to forgive by example even when you were imprisoned wrongfully, you showed the country how to forgive. You said a leader must lead by example and that is exactly what I did , I was always the first to go and the last to leave at training and now it has paid off. I now know that to get the best out of people you must give them something to stride for.

Something was eating away at me during the World Cup. I wanted to know how you managed to spend 18 years on Robben Island. 18 years in a room no bigger than a bathroom.So I scheduled a trip to Robben Island with the team. To also give them inspiration on how to overcame adversities and hardships.Like how you showed by giving me that poem Invictuis. I want to teach them no matter how hard things get one must never give up, to never wince or cry aloud in the in the fell clutch of circumstance and that is exactly what the boys did when facing defeat against New Zealand. Like how you taught our country no matter how wrong they have been in the past, we must face our hardships and move past from it.

The future of our country is truly bright. Rugby for the first time in the history of our country has brought everyone together, everyone has laughed together, cried together and cheered together. I think that this is just the beginning, we have shown that if a whole country can unite and put aside their differences for even 80 minutes then it is possible for us to do it in the future. As we are the masters of our fate and the captains of our soul.

Yours sincerely,
Francois Pienaar

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