• South Africa enjoys 20th anniversary of 1995 Rugby World Cup victory
  • ‘The match had a lasting effect on how people could use sport to value each other and understand each other a little better’ – says former Springboks manager Morné du Plessis
  • ‘1995 inspired a lot of the work that Laureus does’ adds du Plessis

CAPE TOWN, June 24, 2015 – South African rugby is today celebrating the 20th anniversary of the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup win which played such a part in uniting the country and making people aware of the power of sport.

Laureus World Sports Academy Member and rugby legend Morné du Plessis, manager of the winning Springbok side, recalls: “This was the classic example of how sport can change the world. It certainly changed our country and had a lasting effect on how people could use sport to value each other and come to understand each other a little better.

“It’s a story that millions of people around the world have shared; this miracle of sport and and the miracle of a great leader, Nelson Mandela, who of course became the Patron of Laureus.”

South Africa won the Rugby World Cup Final 15-12 against the All Blacks, whose captain was another Laureus Academy Member, Sean Fitzpatrick. It was the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa following the end of apartheid and it proved to be a catalyst in bringing the rainbow nation together.

Nelson Mandela, the President of South Africa, wearing a Springboks rugby shirt and cap, famously presented the Webb Ellis Cup to the South African captain François Pienaar, after the match in Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Du Plessis adds: “It really was a marvellous time in the country. It’s spoken of, around the world, as one of the true miracle stories in sport. It largely inspired a lot of the work that Laureus does, certainly in South Africa; the fact that sport can be such a powerful initiator of social change.”

At what point did du Plessis and his Springbok team-mates think they could win? “It came slowly. When we actually arrived for the first match at Newlands [Cape Town] it was just the most incredible sense of anticipation. People were happy and were proud of their country and the players could actually feel that.

“The players walked around and got that atmosphere and that really was just something unbelievably special and I think that started the realisation for the team that this was a special event. This was a special moment. This was this was more than just rugby and so it grew through the tournament

“We’d get to hotels and the staff of the hotel would be outside the hotel. The whole staff singing welcome songs and then of course President Mandela got involved and came to a practice and that grew into a relationship in itself. So a really memorable time in our country.”

Five years later, President Mandela came to the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco. He said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

This became the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work and behind the creation of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

Now the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation uses the inspirational power of sport to improve the lives of young people, not just in South Africa but around the world. Since its inception in 2000 Laureus has raised €60 million and helped millions of young people.

The Laureus World Sports Academy is a unique association of 52 of the greatest living sporting legends, including Morné du Plessis, who volunteer their time to support the work of the Foundation. Laureus currently supports more than 150 community projects in 35 countries, promoting the positive effect that sport has in tackling some of the world's most challenging social issues from mental health, HIV/Aids, substance abuse, juvenile crime, discrimination and gender equality.

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About Us

Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Cafu, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Rahul Dravid, Luis Figo, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick (Chairman), Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Dan Marino, Yao Ming, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Li Na, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Brian O’Driscoll, Alessandro Del Piero, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raúl, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Sachin Tendulkar, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang. The Laureus Academy Members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for Laureus Sport for Good, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. Laureus Sport for Good addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to combat some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence and crime, discrimination, unemployment, lack of education and health threats including HIV/AIDS and obesity. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – 60 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 160 countries and territories. The Awards continue to support Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does with athletes and partners to transform the lives of individuals and promoting to a global audience the power of sport as a development tool to combat challenging social issues. Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile – and has been passionately shaping its future since 1886. As pioneers in automotive engineering, it is both our inspiration and responsibility to continue the tradition of the brand with trailblazing technologies and high-quality products. Like no other trademark in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz appeals to both the hearts and minds of its customers. We give our very best for customers who expect the very best. Since the founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, our corporate history has been one of innovation and pioneering achievements. Many technical innovations that are nowadays standard in automobiles first entered the market in a Mercedes-Benz. This is the basis for our claim to leadership in automotive engineering. The brand stands for Modern Luxury, and enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, comfort, design and comprehensive, sustainable mobility. IWC SchaffhausenWith a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people and maintains partnerships with organisations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.