A look back on South Africa's hosting of 1995 World Cup

South Africa captain Francois Pienaar receives the World Cup from Nelson Mandela
South Africa captain Francois Pienaar receives the World Cup from Nelson Mandela

With the World Rugby board recommending South Africa as the host for the 2023 edition of the Rugby World Cup, we take a look at the last time the country staged the tournament in 1995.


The 1995 tournament was the first major sporting event to be held in South Africa following the end of apartheid. It was also the first time South Africa competed in the tournament. Due to the political problems in the country at the time, the 1995 Rugby World Cup was a test for South Africa's new president, Nelson Mandela, to try and unite his divided nation. With South Africa seemingly on the brink of civil war, Mandela instructed his people to come together to support the Springboks.

A memorable finish

The final between New Zealand and South Africa saw the best attack come up against the best defence. The All Blacks went into the showpiece having scored 315 points in the tournament, with the home nation only conceding 55. Without a try scored in the opening 80 minutes they went into extra-time locked at 9-9. Both sides scored penalties during the first half of extra-time but it was Joel Stransky's drop goal which secured South Africa the World Cup in front of a sell-out crowd at Ellis Park. The image of Mandela wearing a Springbok jersey and baseball cap, handing over the Webb Ellis Cup to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar, is still one of the most memorable in sporting history.


This was the first Rugby World Cup to be hosted by one nation. A total of nine stadiums were used, with the majority being given upgrades prior to the tournament to ensure they were up to the required standard. The largest four - Loftus Versfeld, Newlands, Kings Park Stadium and Ellis Park - were used for the knockout games, with Johannesburg's Ellis Park hosting the final itself.


The tournament was the subject of the John Carlin book 'Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation'. It was later immortalised into the 2009 film 'Invictus' starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, who played South Africa captain Pienaar and Mandela respectively. It resulted in Academy Award nominations for Freeman and Damon.


Springboks Fixtures


Springboks Results


South Africa Squad