PRETORIA, November 7 – Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi on Thursday in Pretoria saluted coach Rassie Erasmus and the multitudes of fans across the world who rallied behind the team who won the Rugby World Cup in Japan at the weekend.
Kolisi led his charges as they presented the coveted Webb Ellis Cup to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where a sea of fans had gathered to give them team a hero’s welcome.
“We are very happy and proud to be here with the trophy today. It’s been a lot of hard work, especially for our coaching staff. Coach Rassie [Erasmus], thank you so much for pushing our boundaries and making us believe that we can achieve whatever we desire, as long as we work hard,” said Kolisi to cheering from the jubilant crowds.
“The most important thing we learned from you, is that the most important thing is the country – the Springbok badge in front of our chests, not our own ambitions. That all falls into place once we work hard together. I would like to thank the rest of the coaching staff as well.”
Crowds of ecstatic Springboks fans lined the Union Buildings’ Government Avenue on Thursday morning, hours before the Springboks arrived in Pretoria to kick off their nationwide trophy tour.
The cheering crowd became frenzied when Ramaphosa arrived at a makeshift stage, to meet the team led by Erasmus. Several government ministers and officials of the SA Rugby Union were present.
A Springbok fan, only identified as Fiona, told African News Agency the national rugby team had made South Africa proud.
“We are so proud of you guys, and we are very grateful that you went out there and brought the trophy home. We are very grateful, and we are a proud nation,” said Fiona.
Several streets outside the Union Buildings were lined with cheering crowds waving the South African flag.
In Stanza Bopape Street, Zimbabwean national Abel Muchemwa said the Springboks have become an African symbol of unity.
“In my view, Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup. I can’t express how proud I felt when Siya Kolisi lifted that cup with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Tendai Mtawarira, all the way from Zimbabwe, was very pivotal in that win. The Springboks have once again united us as a nation, and a continent,” said Muchemwa.
The winning team will also visit Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on their five-day tour to show off the Webb Ellis trophy, clinched on Saturday when they defeated England in the final.
The trophy tour kicked off in Gauteng on Thursday with the Bok-branded bus travelling through parts of Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Soweto.
On Friday, the Boks will be in Durban, followed by stops in East London (Saturday 9 November), Port Elizabeth (Sunday 10 November) and Cape Town (Monday 11 November).
– African News Agency (ANA)