'We wanted to win it for South Africa' - Rassie Erasmus

Siya Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus (Gallo)
Siya Kolisi and Rassie Erasmus (Gallo)

When the Springboks left in August to take part in the Rugby World Cup, they had one goal in mind, to win and bring the William Webb Ellis Cup back to South Africa. And that is what they did.

These were the sentiments from the team's first black captain to lift the trophy, Siya Kolisi, as well as coach Johan "Rassie" Erasmus.

The two were speaking at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday evening after arriving to a jubilant green and gold reception from fans who came to congratulate the team on securing its third world championship, to go with its victories in 1995 and 2007.

READ | Ramaphosa: Siya Kolisi's captaincy is the 'power of a dream fulfilled'

Kolisi said the team had drawn its strength from the overwhelming support it received from South Africans who had rallied behind them since they departed for the tournament.

"We know that we go through a lot of challenges as the country and always find a way to get through it, especially when we get together. We all knew that if we lost another game, that was it for us.

"We had to fight every single game like it was a playoff, so we gave it everything we could," Kolisi said. 

A visibly overjoyed Kolisi, who smiled throughout as he proudly held the cup, said the team was grateful to its coach, as well as the entire Bok management team which ensured that they were fit and ready to give their all on the field.

He said the fact that they were able to make something positive from all the challenges they faced before the World Cup was an amazing success which needed to be noted and acknowledged.

The 28-year-old captain, who hails from the streets of Zwide, Port Elizabeth, said the support from his family, especially his father Fezakele, who boarded his first international flight to watch him in action, was also encouraging.  

READ | Siya Kolisi's father takes first trip abroad to watch son lead Boks in RWC final

"I'm sure it was my dad's dream to take me to all the places around the world, but he didn't have the means.

"That is why I am grateful for rugby, that it allows me to do such things. It was really special for my family and me, and it showed my kids that family is really important," Kolisi said.

Coach Erasmus said the 32-12 win over England in Japan on Saturday was for the millions of South Africans who eagerly watched from their screens at home.

He said the team had trained hard, were fit, well-conditioned and did their homework in terms of game planning, which resulted in the victory.

"They were really professional right through the 135 days that we were together. We wanted to win it for South Africa, that's without a doubt." Erasmus added that going forward, the team needed to now focus on some of the challenges it still faced, which amongst them include "making sure that everybody gets equal chances of playing and fair chances".   

He said focusing on the challenges would ensure that the Springboks continue to win its matches going to the next World Cup consistently.

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