'This trophy is for the people of South Africa'
REACTION: Rassie Erasmus and Siyamthanda Kolisi hope the Springboks’ World Cup triumph will go some way to assist in fixing a broken society.
On their arrival back in South Africa, with the Webb Ellis Cup on display in its full glory, they spoke of the ‘privilege’ of being able to give hope to millions who live their daily lives in fear.
Both Erasmus, who is stepping down as coach to focus on his Director of Rugby position, and Kolisi spoke of how the team was driven by the desire to do something positive for their country.
Erasmus, as he did at media briefings in Japan, spoke about giving hope to those who live in abject poverty.
The retiring coach spoke of the enjoyment of seeing the hard work the players put in over the past 135 days, through to the weekend’s Final (a 32-12 win demolition of England).
He added that the biggest driving force was the desire to win it for the people of South Africa.
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“You can see what is happening here,” Erasmus said of the thousands that thronged the airport arrivals hall in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“At half-time [in the Final, with the score just 12-6 in the Boks’ favour] the chat was again about South Africa, it wasn’t about the game plan.
“It [the dressing room talk] was about the people back home.”
Kolisi was singing from the same hymn sheet.
“The people [South African public] did help us a lot,” he told the media gathering,” adding: “It gave us another reason to fight even harder.
“We knew what was going on back home.
“It is a privilege to do what we are doing and it gave a bit of hope to the people.
“We saw all the videos [of the fans] in the malls and taverns [celebrating].
“It was much more than just for our personal gain – it was for the country.”
They also 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,” Kolisi said of the airport reception.
“We can’t begin to thank everyone for backing us throughout this journey.
“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.”
Erasmus said the Boks can’t wait to embark on their trophy tour, which kicks off in Gauteng on Thursday.
They will also visit Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on a whirlwind tour stretching over five days.
“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 don’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.”