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Tue 5 Nov 2019 | 09:05

Twenty weeks of glory

Siyamthanda Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus presser
Tue 5 Nov 2019 | 09:05
Twenty weeks of glory

SPOTLIGHT: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus described his team’s 20-week journey to Japan and back as only positives.

Erasmus and captain Siyamthanda Kolisi arrived at the OR Tambo airport with the Webb Ellis Cup on display.

Thousands of South Africans screamed with joy, danced and sang as the first groups of Springboks who won the World Cup returned home.

The victorious squad, coaches and officials are returning in batches on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Forward Pieter-Steph du Toit, voted World Rugby Player of the Year two days ago, and scrumhalf Francois de Klerk were among the first players to arrive on Tuesday.

Kolisi and Erasmus were among a group that arrived on a delayed flight later on Tuesday evening.

Erasmus, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Tuesday, said: “What we want to keep on lasting is what we’re seeing here at the airport [racial unity].

“We have to focus on making sure that everybody gets equal chances of playing, everybody gets good nutrition and everybody gets a fair chance.

“There are so many things that we have to fix, we can’t just focus on the Springboks. There are so many bigger things that we have to fix.”

Kolisi echoed similar sentiments at a packed media briefing.

“Humbled and overawed,” Kolisi said.

“We are privileged to do what we are doing.

“We know that can give a little bit of hope to the people.

“We won because we wanted it a lot.

“The people here gave us another reason to want it even harder. We had our people with us and it was really special for us.

“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,” Kolisi added.

“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!”

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 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.”

The trophy tour kicks off in Gauteng on Thursday, November 7, with the Bok bus travelling through parts of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Soweto.

On Friday (November 8) the Boks will be in Durban, followed by stops in East London (Saturday, November 9), Port Elizabeth (Sunday, November 10) and Cape Town (Monday, November 11).

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