What a week the Springboks have had! They have had a week full of celebrations since winning the Rugby World Cup on Saturday starting with winning 3 awards at the World Rugby Awards in Tokyo on Sunday. They then arrived back in South Africa on Tuesday evening to a massive crowd welcoming their heroes home at O.R. Tambo International Airport.
“Humbled and over-awed” – that was the reaction of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi when the newly-crowned Rugby World Cup champions were welcomed back to South Africa by thousands of supporters, government officials and a huge media contingent.
A big chunk of the 31 players that did duty in Japan arrived on three different flights after close to 40 hours of travel from Tokyo at around 17h00 on Tuesday afternoon. Groups of Springbok players and management flew via Sydney, Beijing, Seoul, Doha and Abu Dhabi. The first groups to arrive – which included World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit, RWC final try-scorers Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi, as well as RWC final man of the match Duane Vermeulen – were greeted by massive cheers from thousands of green and gold clad supporters as pandemonium broke out when the Bokke exited into the International Arrivals hall.
Siya Kolisi and South Africa’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus – whose flight via Sydney was delayed by a few hours – landed a few hours later, with supporters patiently waiting for their arrival. The arrivals hall erupted with thunderous cheers when the Springbok captain walked through the doors carrying the Webb Ellis Cup just after 20h00. They thanked the supporters for coming out in their droves to welcome their heroes back.
“In Japan, we got a glimpse of the support back home, but this reception is something else – we can’t begin to thank everyone for backing us throughout this journey,” said Kolisi. “We did this for all South Africans – ordinary people who work tirelessly all day long to care for their families and friends and ultimately make our wonderful country an even better place. Winning the World Cup on foreign soil was very special – and arriving home to this wonderful support is the cherry on top. We are tired but grateful, humbled and over-awed – thank you!”
Rassie Erasmus said “We brought the Webb Ellis Cup home for all South Africans and we really wish we could go everywhere to thank our supporters, but unfortunately logistics and time constraints doesn’t allow for that to happen this time,” said Erasmus. “I would like to agree with Siya – the support here at the airport today made all the hard work and sacrifices over the last two months worth it. Thank you to everyone who came out to greet us tonight.”
The trophy tour kicked off yesterday in Gauteng with the Bok bus travelling through parts of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Soweto. Massive crowds cheered, sang and celebrated as the jubilant Springboks excitedly celebrated on the bus rooftop showing off the trophy! The day started at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the Springboks and the huge crowd! Today the Bokke are touring Durban in the bus. They will be in East London tomorrow, Port Elizabeth on Sunday and Cape Town on Monday.