November 2, 2019 / 12:27 PM / 12 days ago

RPT-Soweto celebrates South Africa's first Rugby World Cup win under black captain

(Repeats to change media tag to RUGBY-UNION-WORLDCUP-ENG-ZAF/SOWETO, no changes to text)

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Even before the full time whistle went, Sakhumzi bar in Johannesburg’s Soweto township erupted into frenzy of cheering and singing as South Africa closed in on a 32-12 victory over England at the Rugby World Cup Final in Japan.

The crowd at this outdoor bar on Vilakazi Street in Soweto — made famous by being the home of two of the most celebrated resisters of apartheid – late former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu — reflected the harmonious multiracial society that South Africa still aspires to become.

Black, white and some mixed-race fans donned springbok shirts and shared drinks as their team dominated against England to bring the cup back home.

For many this was South Africa’s most unifying game of rugby since the 1995 final win against the All Blacks of New Zealand, when Mandela donned a springbok jersey to unite a nation trying to heal the scars left over from racist white minority rule.

Mandela had become his country’s first black president just a year before South Africa won the 1995 World Cup.

“I’m so proud. It’s our first win with a black captain,” said Sibusiso Radebe, 37, an insurance underwriter, referring to captain Siya Kolisi.

“In ‘95 the game was still dominated by whites but that has really changed,” he said, as fans chanted “Siya” behind him.

Reporting by Tim Cocks Editing by Frances Kerry

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