The Springboks have a theme around their participation in the Sept.
18–Oct. 31 tournament which they have dubbed ‘Home Ground Advantage’, suggesting the entire country will be behind them even if they are 10,000 miles away.
That is unlikely because many people question if the team has been transformed enough to reflect the country’s demographics, leaving them feeling alienated from the side.
Against this backdrop of negative publicity, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) are doing their best to push unity and have created a tangible aspect to their campaign.
A special piece of turf is being grown in soil drawn from all 14 South African rugby provinces.
The seed will be taken to England where it will be planted and placed in special trays in the Springbok dressing room.
The South African turf will be the last thing the players’ boots touch before they enter the field during the tournament.
“We wanted some way to make our Home Ground Advantage campaign tangible for the players,” SARU CEO Jurie Roux said in a press release on Wednesday.
“They know that back home and in the stands there will be passionate South Africans cheering them on.
“But this will be a visible and physical reminder of what they are playing for and from where they come. The soil has been sent to us from the provinces all over South Africa; it couldn’t get more South African than this.
“The Rugby World Cup only comes round every four years and we know how much sporting success has meant to our country. Now is the time to show the players that we have their backs and are with them every step of the way.”
South Africa have been drawn in Pool B at the World Cup alongside Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)