The 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok team arrived to a befitting heroes’ welcome at the Union Buildings on Thursday, ahead of their much-anticipated trophy tour.
The red carpet was rolled out at the official seat of government for the world champions, who met President Cyril Ramaphosa on the day they kicked-off their nationwide trophy tour. It was a proud moment for the scores of South Africans, who made their way to the Union Buildings to meet the men whose showing in Yokohama has evoked a sense of national pride and cohesion reminiscent of the Boks’ World Cup win of 1995.
On Thursday, the Boks — captained by Siyamthanda Kolisi and led by coach Rassie Erasmus — were welcomed by hundreds of eager South Africans in the capital city, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the team who rose against all odds to claim victory in Japan. The Boks arrived at the Union Buildings in an open-top bus showing off the coveted goldware.
President Ramaphosa could hardly contain his delight as he thanked the Boks for putting their best foot forward in a World Cup campaign under the slogan #StrongerTogether. The boys, he said, have not only firmly placed South Africa’s flag on the world map, but they have brought home something the nation had desperately thirsted for.
“We are proud of you. You have made us proud. Everything that contributes to nation building and social cohesion must be shared in by all South Africans.
“This is a great moment for us all. You contributed to consolidating our nation. Thank very much for all that you have done for the nation,” the President said to roaring cheers from the crowd.
On the day of the final against a formidable England, President Ramaphosa had an opportunity to speak to the team and wished them well. “We are delighted that we sent them out there to go and fly the flag of our country in Japan and they did so with great excellence and commitment,” the President said.
On the day of the match, more than 2.5 billion people throughout the world tuned in to witness the historic match played at International Stadium Yokohama. Millions of South Africans congregated throughout the country to support the Boks in a final battle that would lead to the national team securing a 32 – 12 victory against England.
Kolisi, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the love and support South Africans have collectively shown the team. “Thank you so much for your support and for every single message and video that inspired us,” he said. He thanked the team for the good work they put in throughout the tournament. “I could not have done all this without you,” said Kolisi.
Tshwane resident Ryan Swartman, who came to see the Boks at the Union Buildings, said there was nowhere else he would rather be. “Today I decided not to go to work because I wanted to see the champions.”
Another rugby fan, Tholakele Ndamasi, told SAnews that the Boks’ win was a victory for all of South Africa. “They are our heroes.”
Cabinet Ministers and politicians from various parties also turned out in numbers to welcome the men in green and gold.
National trophy tour
The visit to the capital city marked the start of the Springboks’ national parade of the Webb Ellis Cup. The team is expected to visit Johannesburg, Soweto, today and other provinces over the next few days.
In Tshwane, the team paraded the cup along the streets of the capital city, moving along Jan Shoba, Burnett, Park, Kirkness, Lynwood, Paul Kruger, Madiba and Lilian Ngoyi streets.
The team landed at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday and were overwhelmingly welcomed by thousands of supporters who were clad in their green and gold Springbok caps and t-shirts, while some proudly waved the national flag.
The trophy will also be shown off in Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth before concluding in Cape Town on Monday, 11 November.