'This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition'
REACTION: South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a public holiday to celebrate the national team’s World Cup victory – but not before students will have completed their final exams.
Many in the country, where rugby stirs strong passions, had hoped for an extra day off, possibly this week, to bask in the glory of Saturday’s 12-11 win over New Zealand.
They were only partially appeased, with Ramaphosa declaring December 15 a public holiday.
“This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition and celebration of our rugby players and their achievements,” the president said in a televised address to the nation.
“I know that many of us want us to have a holiday now to celebrate. But we should all agree that we should give our matriculants time to focus on their exams and celebrate afterwards.”
School starts in January and ends in December in South Africa and most students in their last year of high school took the first test of their matriculation exam on Monday.
The Springboks, with iconic captain Siya Kolisi to the fore, beat New Zealand in a gripping final for a record fourth title in Paris on Saturday, sparking jubilant scenes across South Africa.
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Meanwhile, Mark Alexander, President of the South African Rugby Union, passed on the Springboks’ heartfelt gratitude to all South Africans for the overwhelming support and passion showered upon the team throughout their triumphant World Cup journey.
“The Springboks are on their way back to South Africa, but on their behalf and on behalf of the entire South African rugby community, I want to express our profound gratitude and humility in the face of the immense support the team has received.
“The TikToks, YouTube videos, and Facebook posts of fans reacting to the Bok victories played a significant role in motivating the team to give their all as the clock ticked down to the final whistle on Saturday night.”
A four-day trophy tour has been meticulously planned to convey the team’s appreciation and proudly showcase the trophy as it embarks on another four-year journey in South Africa.
Alexander highlighted that the tour’s purpose was to reach as many people as possible within the limited timeframe before the squad disperses. The five largest population centres in the country – Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Soweto, and Pretoria – have been given priority to provide the maximum number of people with the opportunity to welcome the team.
Furthermore, the significance of the Eastern Cape in the history, development, and future of black rugby was acknowledged, leading to a visit to Buffalo City on a non-working day to enable individuals from the region to be part of the celebration.
Regarding the choice of Buffalo City over Nelson Mandela Bay, Alexander noted that another significant Springbok event is planned for the metropole in 2024, although specific details are yet to be confirmed.
“The players’ club commitments necessitate their swift return or immediate rehabilitation after 21 weeks of intense competition since the Rugby Championship began,” said Alexander.
“Satellite tours to other population centres in the Free State, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Northern Cape, among other places, are in the planning stages, with scheduling contingent on players’ club commitments.
“While it was always challenging to visit every town and city due to time constraints, we are confident that our choices and ongoing planning will enable us to visit all major population centres in every province over time. With the Cup in our possession for another four years, there’s ample opportunity for that.”
“Thank you, South Africa.”
The Trophy Tour kicks off this Thursday in Johannesburg, Soweto, and Pretoria.
AFP & SA Rugby