CHASING THE SUN: Libbok's triumph against the odds a lesson for us all

rugby26 March 2024 05:48| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Manie Libbok © Gallo Images

In the end it was always going to be the heroism of Manie Libbok that would shine through.

As episode one of Chasing the Sun played out across our screens and hit the crescendo of the Springbok 10’s no-look kick-pass to a flying Kurt-Lee Arendse, it was only natural for the symphony of joy to take over. And it did. In slow motion.

The moment that personified the opening win of the 2023 Rugby World Cup was played out in all its slow-motion glory. It was a symphony of hope meeting a triumph of spirit.

The most unlikely hero of the moment, the man that everyone had written off going into the tournament, sends the ball in near-perfection to the smallest man on the field to complete a historic win.

It was a moment that settled the nerves. A moment that lifted the spirits.

From Humansdorp to Marseilles, the trajectory of that ball had a nation holding its breath, with seconds feeling like hours before the explosion of joy when Arendse dotted the ball down.



Episode one of Chasing the Sun reminded us of all that and more as it took us behind the scenes of a team defending its title against the odds.


But it also taught us a few lessons.

Anyone thinking back to the lead-in to the big game will remember how much debate their was about goalkicking.

The shock omission of Handre Pollard and Lukhanyo Am from the initial squad had left the Boks with just one recognised flyhalf. A massive gamble, a point that was debated around the country by Bok fans for weeks.

Libbok’s kicking was suspect, prone to fail under pressure, but just as prone to kick the winning penalty when needed. Just ask the DHL Stormers as he had spearheaded them to two Vodacom United Rugby Championship finals in the last two years.

But it was a massive gamble.

Yet, as the episode showed us, the belief that the Bok coaching squad have in their players is unwavering.



While others may doubt, Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus put it plainly: We trusted Manie to sort it out.

Jacques Nienaber was just as emphatic at the post match press conference when asked if Libbok’s kicking was a concern. “Not if he wins man of the match” was his answer.

The belief in the players was answered by their belief in the coaching team.


Another theme that shone through was the reminder that once again this was a side of battlers.

Libbok’s background, his struggle and his determination to get to the top despite the cards he was dealt. Overcoming his time at the Bulls and Sharks when coaches didn’t believe in him to finally make it to the top is not only inspiring, it is the narrative of the national side.

Time and again Chasing the Sun reminds us that we are stronger together - as the team’s motto projects. That despite the challenges we can overcome. Despite the obstacles, there is a way.

Libbok’s story, his tale of passion and obstacles.

The missed kicks against Scotland and the triumph of Arendse’s try were all crafted together in a tapestry that makes Chasing the Sun 2 special.

And if that was the opener, then it can only get better.

Chasing the Sun 2 will air on Sundays at 8pm on MNet and is available on Catch Up (click below).