Beyond the Touchline: How the Boks & their fans deal with high expectations

In the third instalment of Beyond the Touchline, we take a look at the emotions that both players and fans go through ahead of a big tournament like the World Cup and, how that affects the Boks' performance on the field.

The 16th Springbok team player - the fans. Picture: Reuters

How does the national anthem make you feel? For fans and rugby players alike it triggers emotions that that are difficult to explain. For the players, the anthem is a source of inspiration from which they draw strength on the field. For fans, it’s a source of pride and way to unite behind the national team.

“The anthem itself is just part of that journey of representing your country. It’s a special time where you get to stand there and sing and think a little bit. Maybe take in a little bit more than you would normally,” former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky says. “That experience of walking down the tunnel, the roar of the crowd … the kick off. It’s a sensational part of life.”

Some Springboks use the time during the national anthem to reflect on their achievements and their journey into the Springbok team, like Handre Pollard.

“You sometimes think back to where you’ve come from. You think a lot of things. Sometimes you just think about the rugby,” he said. “The adrenalin you get from it, the energy, is just unreal.”

But with such passion and energy, comes the pressure to win, and no one knows that better than a Springbok rugby player who has millions of compatriots counting on him to seize victory.

“It’s wonderful when the fans get involved, especially when we play at home. The fans are almost like that 16th player. They should never underestimate what that means to the guys wearing the jersey. For me, it’s always been special, especially when the fans start singing and chanting.”