Rugby is king: Kolisi, Am, Mapimpi & co. stop traffic and a soccer match in East London

Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am hold the trophy up to the crowd in their hometown. (Chante Schatz, News24)
Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am hold the trophy up to the crowd in their hometown. (Chante Schatz, News24)

The Springboks received a hero's welcome in East London, as they shared their Rugby World Cup win with the residents of Buffalo City.

East London was the third stop on the Springboks' Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.

Siya Kolisi, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi were cheered on as the kings of rugby returned home to the rugby-crazy province.

Residents filled the streets, leaned out of cars and stood on balconies flying the South African flag, singing songs and cheering the world champions.

Starting the day off at the Garden Court Hotel in East London, they made their way to the East London CBD and City Hall. They were received by Buffalo City officials and residents.

The team made their way on over to the rugby home of try-scorer and record-breaker Mapimpi in Mdantsane.

The area came to a standstill with crowds of people coming to see the bus and the Boks chanting "Siya" and "Mapimpi" as they went along. 

A week ago, Mapimpi, with the deft assistance of Am, made history when he became the first Springbok to score a try in a World Cup final, helping his side to a third Webb Ellis Cup with their 32-12 triumph over England in Yokohama, Japan. Today, they returned as champions and local heroes.

Along the way, there were a number of memorable moments.

A local soccer game in Amalinda was stopped just so players could get a glimpse of the team. The referee also joined in on the celebrations and returned to the field moments later. 

Patients and staff from Frere hospital took a break from their activities and joined in on the celebrations. There were tears in the eyes of many a supporter in Vincent Park as they marvelled at the sons of the Eastern Cape, Kolisi, Mapimpi and Am danced and celebrated on top of the bus.

This is, however, the first leg of the Eastern Cape tour.

The Port Elizabeth leg of the tour will officially kick off tomorrow morning before the trophy tour ends on Monday in Cape Town.

- compiled by Ethan Van Diemen

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