Being chosen to represent your country in a World Cup has to be the pinnacle of any rugby player’s career. We spoke to former Springbok and world cup player, Butch James, shortly after the current team arrived in Japan for this month’s tournament.
- Having played in a World Cup yourself, please share a bit about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ happenings as the Springboks readied themselves for this year’s World Cup in Japan. The lead up to the tournament was a long couple of weeks for them. They were busy with the Rugby Championship, which meant they were away from home for around two months, and then they left for Japan three weeks prior to the start of the World Cup to prepare and play their final warm up game.
- What does it mean for a rugby player to represent his country in a World Cup? The World Cup is the ultimate for any international rugby player. As a South African rugby player though, you also carry the hopes of every South African – there is a lot of pressure on the players.
- What is one of your most memorable moments from the 2007 World Cup? The whole experience in France was just incredible. It was six weeks that I will never ever forget. My favourite memory has to be after the final, in our hotel room, celebrating with my wife, my parents and my brother, as well as friends and all the other players’ friends and families.
- How did you feel walking onto the field in the final match? I had felt very nervous in the week building up to the final. I had been played in a few finals, but we hadn’t won any. But, as I walked onto the field, I felt confident about our team and had a good feeling about the result.
- What would your advice be to the players who are representing South Africa in Japan? I would tell them to make sure they enjoy the country and make memories on their days off. It will be a time of their life that they will remember forever, so they should make it the best memory.
Text: Leah Shone