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Siya Kolisi, captain and symbol of South African rugby’s progress | Andy Bull

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Racial quotas in the Springbok selection process are still a regular subject of rancour but Kolisi is living proof of their ongoing validity and usefulness

There are people who believe Nelson Mandela died years before he really did, who swear they remember reading about his funeral in the 1980s, hearing it on the radio, even watching it on TV. It is such a common mistake that the phenomenon’s got its own name: the “Mandela effect”. Time was when that phrase would have carried very different connotations. It might have described Mandela’s galvanising influence in moments such as the 1995 World Cup final, when he famously dressed in François Pienaar’s spare Springbok jersey to present the South Africa team with the Webb Ellis Cup, and when, Mandela said later, South Africa celebrated as “one nation uniting behind our victorious team”.

Here, too, our collective memory, shaped by Clint Eastwood’s Hollywood history Invictus, has grown a little warped and distorted. A lot of South Africans will tell you that the sense of unity Mandela’s gesture engendered was alive so briefly that they cannot be sure it really existed at all.

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