Back-to-back Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has paid tribute to the thousands of supporters who filled the streets in celebration of the team’s triumph in France last month.
The Boks completed a four-day tour across four different cities upon their return from Paris, where they beat New Zealand 12-11 to retain the Webb Ellis Trophy for another four years. While the team couldn’t attend to all nine provinces, Kolisi expressed the team’s fervent gratitude for those who did make the time to welcome and celebrate their success.
“As a Springbok team we wanted to give South African people hope, but those who welcomed us back at OR Tambo International Airport from France, and all along the trophy tour routes and airports, gave us hope and inspired us to keep showing that regardless of your upbringing, race, religion and background, you can achieve anything,” said Kolisi.
“We said before the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand that we were playing for the 60 million-plus people in South Africa, and the support we witnessed first-hand on the trophy tour in the last few days was breath-taking. It was special to see the scenes when we arrived home after the 2019 World Cup, but this welcome was something else. We said we wanted to help build the nation through rugby, and with tens of thousands of people from all walks of life in all four provinces running next to the bus and cheering us on, we witnessed a united nation, and we hope we can continue to see this in society as well,” shared Kolisi.
Cognisant of the desire for others to see the team and cup in person, the history-making skipper vows to remain inspired by the support when the Boks return to action in 2024. “The Springboks may only return to the field next year again, but what we took from the last few days will continue to drive us as a team,” the 32-year-old added.
“”Once again, we wish we could have visited every province and every community, but we have to return to our clubs, so it was not possible. We know, however, that in every province, we would have received the exact same support and passion. Thank you, South Africa. We love you,” he concluded.