King Kolisi revels in support as thousands welcome Boks home

Siya Kolisi holds the Webb Ellis Cup as he is greeted by hundreds of fans upon his arrival at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport on Tuesday. South Africa defeated England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday Picture: Jerome Delay/AP
Siya Kolisi holds the Webb Ellis Cup as he is greeted by hundreds of fans upon his arrival at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport on Tuesday. South Africa defeated England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday Picture: Jerome Delay/AP

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said the country’s underprivileged children should “keep dreaming and keep believing” as he carried the Rugby World Cup trophy through thousands of fans on the team’s return home on Tuesday.

Kolisi led the Springboks to victory in Japan when they beat England 32-12 in the final in Yokohama on Saturday, a third title for the country after 1995 and 2007, and the first under a black captain.

His rags-to-riches tale has been inspirational for many, and the raucous welcome the side received showcased the full range of the Rainbow Nation as fans from all walks of life spent hours waiting for a glimpse of the players as they emerged in groups from different flights.

Hundreds of fans line the arrivals hall at OR Tambo International Airport to greet Siya Kolisi as he emerges with the Webb Ellis trophy. Picture: Jerome Delay/AP

The biggest cheer was reserved for Kolisi, who grew up in an impoverished township and has written his name not only into rugby folklore but also into the history of South Africa as a beacon of hope for those who face a bleak future.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi arrives home after leading the Boks to victory in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

“The kids must keep dreaming and keep believing,” he told reporters.

The kids must keep dreaming and keep believing
Siya Kolisi

“Anything can be overcome. When I was young, I was just focused on going to training each day, preparing myself for the opportunity just in case it ever came.

“I am proof it can be done. We don’t want it to be so tough for anybody else, we want to make it easier in the future.”

SA captain Siya Kolisi and coach Rassie Erasmus address the media at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Kolisi said the players felt the support from back home during their time in Japan, with a TV screen in their hotel constantly replaying videos from fans, or images of ordinary South Africans celebrating their victories.

Star-studded support

He added that the team had also been inspired by messages from tennis great Roger Federer, whose mother was born in South Africa, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.


“I am a huge Federer fan, so when he sent the message it was special. Tom Brady as well, that was amazing for us as a team.”

The Boks’ next encounter will be against an as yet unnamed opponent in the 2020 June International window, and Kolisi is hopeful that the core of the World Cup-winning side will be kept together.

“We would love to stay together as a team, but that will be down to the coach. A lot of us have committed to staying in South Africa for that,” Kolisi said. – Reuters


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