Nelson Mandela who was known to the world as a symbol of resistance to racism and brought South Africa to an all-race democracy.
''Mandela may not have understood rugby very well, but he understood the political impact sports could have. That’s why he seized on the Rugby World Cup. Mandela—in a tremendous act of self-interested generosity toward the vanquished whites—allowed South Africa to host the tournament, which had been awarded to the country in 1992. And then he convinced his black compatriots to make the Springbok team their own, even though there was only one nonwhite player on the 15-man roster. He did this by enlisting the white stars of the team to his cause, persuading them to learn the new national anthem (previously a song of black protest) and to reach out to what initially was a mightily skeptical black population.
The Springboks beat France, Australia and others to reach the final against New Zealand, then the best team in the world. But the day’s crowning moment came before the game had even begun, when Mandela went out onto the field, before a crowd of 65,000 that was 95% white, wearing the green Springbok jersey, the old symbol of oppression, beloved of his apartheid jailers. There was a moment of jaw-dropping disbelief, a sharp collective intake of breath, and suddenly the crowd broke into a chant, which grew steadily louder, of “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!”
An hour and a half later, after a nerve-racking final seven minutes, the Springboks won the game. And then, when Mandela walked onto the field to present the trophy to South Africa’s captain, it was “Nelson! Nelson!” again, but even louder, and with tears now. The whole country, black and white, sang and danced into the night, united for the first time in its history around one cause, one delirious celebration. There was no civil war, no right wing terrorism, and Mandela achieved his life’s goal of creating what remains still today, and would have seemed almost impossible then: a stable, multiracial democracy."