Some pundits have called it the greatest comeback since Lazarus. That might be putting it a little strongly. But after watching last five minutes of the Varsity Cup final in the video below, it’s hard to argue that the final result was expected. American baseball great Babe Ruth once said “It is hard to beat someone who never gives up.” That’s as true in business as it is in sport, the area where comebacks are most evident. The honest-tryer overcomes the talent-laden more often that you’d think. In this blog about events of Monday evening, author and Human Brand Specialist Rob Opie refers to the University of Cape Town’s heroics as the greatest comeback since Apollo 13. That’s perhaps more appropriate than Lazarus. But only just. – Alec Hogg
By Robert Opie*
Joel Stansky’s 1995 drop goal elated the nation. This week in the university and farming town of Potchefstroom, it was not to be for Potch University flyhalf Johnny Welthagen, as he attempted an ill fated last minute drop goal that handed UCT victory in the Varsity Cup final – producing one of the most thrilling and exhilarating comeback stories of sport – UCT scoring three times in the last five minutes to secure a 39-33 victory over the Pukke.
Joel himself described this week’s dramatic drop goal incident and UCT comeback story as simply destiny and fate. Take a look at the last five minutes of the game (below), as it well worth watching. Watch the faces in the crowd.
What is it about sport? Crammed full of comebacks, sport also demands bounce backs. UCT must have felt on top of the world on Monday evening, but for Johnny Welthagen it revealed the other side of sport, and how sport consumes all our emotions. Sport certainly dramatizes life. It speeds everything up. The successes and failures, open and transparent. It teaches us about the balance of life. It teaches us about winning and losing. It is a microcosm of life itself. That finger tip that blocked the ill fated drop goal producing destiny and fate.
England’s World Cup winning flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson once said “It’s tough to take, but the measure of any player is how one reacts to the worst of times as well as the best of times ‘. Monday night in Potchefstroom had it all. There is something special about great comebacks that everybody just loves. Teams that become galvanized by emotive power are a pure pleasure to watch. They inspire and build the belief that nothing is impossible. Is this just the beauty of youth? What is it that sees some teams snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, while others snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Is it really fate?
No, it was all about F.C. B for UCT, namely Faith, Confidence and Belief. Most likely inspired by the modern instant heroics of sports like IPL cricket, and the speed of sevens rugby turnarounds, they never ever gave up believing. To UCT, who enacted an Apollo 13 like comeback, well done. To Johnny Welthagen and his team mates, it’s time to climb back on the horse, and bounce back to win it next year. That’s the beauty of sport and life itself.