In 1985, Nelson Mandela, then in prison for twenty-three years, set about winning over the fiercest proponents of apartheid before setting his sights on the nation's first free elections in 1994. But perhaps his greatest challenge was finding a cause that would unite the nation, fractured after fifty years of apartheid. His choice was one of the most far-fetched imaginable: the Springboks, their national rugby team, long an embodiment of white supremacist rule.
The Springboks' chances-both of victory and inspiring unity-seemed remote. But as their string of wins lengthened, South Africans of every color and political stripe began falling for the team, Soon, millions were gathered around their television sets watching as the Springboks ended their season with an incredible win-and capped Mandela's miraculous ten-year-long effort to unite all South Africans in an enduring bond.