Lili Auriat 07:00, 08 September 2023

What will remain of the 1995 World Cup in Abdelatif Benazzi's mind is certainly a surreal defeat of the France in the semi-finals, but also a personal letter from South African President Nelson Mandela. For him, playing a semi-final against South Africa and failing to score the winning try was his "mektoub", his destiny. Abdelatif Benazzi tells this anecdote in "Les Géants du rugby", an original podcast produced by Europe 1 Studio.


For Abdelatif Benazzi, the 1995 World Cup is not only a sporting event, it is also the realization of his "mektoub", his destiny. This is how he explains the surreal defeat of the France against South Africa in the semi-final, in "The Giants of Rugby", a podcast Europe 1 Studio.

Since the beginning of the match, the refereeing is doubtful, the Welshman Derek Bevan has denied two tries to the France with justifications that do not convince, and has granted one to the Springboks that is debated. It was the time of refereeing without video... Despite this, the XV of France is neck and neck with South Africa. Abdelatif Benazzi was then 10 meters from the goal line when he received the ball and rushed to give victory to his team.

But the French third line failed, a failure that he still cannot explain nearly 30 years later: "This action we did it again 100 times today, and 100 times I am 10 meters behind the line. But no, I fall like a sledgehammer, I stay glued to the ground." Benazzi flattened the ball on the line but the try was not there according to the referee, who whistled shortly after the end of the match. The France was eliminated and South Africa advanced to the final.

"South Africa Day"

"Mandela went through this, fate went through this", for Benazzi it was superior forces that intervened in this match. Maybe the South African President wearing the jersey of South African captain François Pienaar, pure Afrikaners product, has something to do with it... Anyway, Abdelatif Benazzi is certain, it could not happen otherwise, "it was the day of South Africa".

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This victory is the victory of 42 million South Africans, that of a country united, for a brief moment, behind a team, a cause. "I learned that day that sport is more than winning or losing and that was good for this country," Benazzi said.

His words were heard in South Africa, even at the highest levels, and earned him a far more significant reward than a trophy: a letter of thanks from Nelson Mandela himself. "Sport has the power to change the world because it has the power to inspire people," the South African president wrote to him. Discover Abdelatif Benazzi's touching account of his 1995 World Cup, in "Les Géants du rugby", an original podcast produced by Europe 1 Studio.

> Listen to Abdelatif Benazzi's story in full by clicking here