The final episode of Chasing the Sun aired over the weekend as is being touted the world over as a beautifully put together series conveying a special story of not just rugby, but humanity.
The series takes the viewer behind the scenes of the Springboks’ journey from 18 months before the World Cup in Japan 2019 right up to the tournament’s final against England on 2 November. Interest is easily cultivated when one is confronted by a South African camp which is as diverse as it is now admired – a cultural melting pot with personalities moulded from a multitude of different backgrounds from affluent to extreme poverty – these are the Springboks of today.
The rugby world became captivated, in particular, by the character of head coach Rassie Erasmus, who left his job at Irish club Munster, took a truly beleaguered team under his wing and, with the help of a fantastic support staff, turned them into World Champions in an astonishingly short period of time.
Perhaps the most emotive scene in the entire 5-part series was left until the very end, as Erasmus breaks down while recounting a heartbreaking story of Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi. Mapimpi, who scored South Africa's first ever try in a World Cup final, is something of a fairytale, being born into the poorest of circumstances – in the Eastern Cape village of Tsholomnga – and rising to the stardom he enjoys today.
‘On the back of your jersey, there are numbers where you could have photos of family members. He only had photos of himself,’ Erasmus said as he became emotional.
‘He didn’t have anyone else, and I asked “why are you doing this?”, and he said “I’ve got nobody”. You know his brother died, his mother died, he doesn’t have a photo. He doesn’t play for the one thing, he just has a massive heart. Massive heart.’