Grace and Nobility

Let’s just dwell on rugby for a moment. On Saturday, 2nd November 2019, the Springbok rugby team won the Rugby World Cup, for the third time. I think SA had a more easy path to the finals than England did, so the ‘Boks were fresher and had not yet played their hearts out by the finals, which England probably did when they faced down the Kiwis. But setting that aside, the best team won on the day, and won convincingly, 32 to 12, to much joy in South Africa.

There is German word, ‘schadenfreud’, which means it is not enough to see your oponent defeated but you must also see him suffer. The French equivalent, ‘joie maligne’ basically means to take malicious pleasure from another’s misfortune. Schadenfreud and Joie maligne were evident in the response of some of SA’s Rugby Fandom to England’s trouncing by the Boks. England were being humiliated off the field as well as being defeated on the field. That is uncalled for.

When I was at school, we were taught to be gracious and noble in defeat and in victory. What happened to grace and nobility in the passing of the 60 years or so since I was at school. Perhaps these principles of grace and nobility also have passed us by in South Africa, along with time. If so, that is a very sad thing for South Africa.

They say we should learn from our betters. In this instance, we encountered our betters in the form of the Springbok rugby players and particularly the Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who demonstrated the grace and nobility which should be part of every victory and defeat encountered in our lives. And guess who also stepped up and gave us the same lesson from the other side of the fence, but Prince Harry of the British Royal Family, when he came down to the South African dressing room after the match, to congratulate the Boks on their win.

This schadenfreud and joie maligne is also evident in the way we treat one another. We need to do better and be better than that.