A year on, Springbok heroes recall World Cup triumph

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Pieter-Steph du Toit on the charge in the 2019 World Cup final (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Pieter-Steph du Toit on the charge in the 2019 World Cup final (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers
  • South Africa's Rugby World Cup heroes have fond memories of their triumph in Japan.
  • Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the Springboks' 32-12 win over England in the final in Yokohama.
  • Pieter-Steph du Toit, Handre Pollard, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira and Willie le Roux have shared what the win meant for them.

The Springboks' Rugby World Cup heroes say they have fond memories of their triumph in Japan.

Monday (2 November) marks the one-year anniversary South Africa's 32-12 win over England in the final in Yokohama.

Flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, who scooped the World Rugby and SA Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2019, described the triumph as the highlight of his rugby career.

"Looking back, one year later, you now truly appreciate how unbelievable it was to be part of the Springbok team to play in Japan," Du Toit said via a press statement released by SA Rugby. 

"To be able to play in the final and then win the Webb Ellis Cup was a dream came true, really. The celebrations afterwards were special, and I was very lucky to have my wife and baby boy with me, so that made it extra special. 

"We had a team talk afterwards at the hotel and the families were also part of that, so that was amazing. The celebrations afterwards meant it was one of the best nights of my life!"

Flyhalf Handre Pollard was also one of the Bok heroes of that comprehensive victory over England, who were considered the favourites for the world title.

The Springbok pivot scored 22 points with six penalty goals and two conversions. 

"It’s been a crazy 2020, really, with everything that has happened with the pandemic," said Pollard. 

"But I am sure the Rugby World Cup win is still something that make people look back with many happy memories. 

"The final was obviously the highlight of the tournament. The celebrations afterwards at the hotel, the travel back to SA and then that amazing victory tour on the bus to show the trophy to the people are all truly amazing memories."

The tournament also brought the curtain down on the careers of a trio of very experienced Springboks, namely Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw and Schalk Brits

Louw, who is still based in England where he has started with the next chapter in his life, said: "To walk off that field as world champions is hands down the greatest moment of my rugby career. 

"What a celebration afterwards, simply electric from the moment we got back into our team hotel in Tokyo all the way to South Africa. Experiencing those moments with the fans is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life," added Louw. 

Mtawarira has ventured into business since his retirement and is studying full-time for his MBA following a short and Covid-19 interrupted club rugby stint in the USA. 

"I played in two previous Rugby World Cup tournaments and to eventually to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in my final Test, wow, I can't even put it into words," said the former Bok front ranker. 

"When I think back, I see the unbelievable tenacity of the team, and when I think of what happened this year, it's been an unbelievable tragedy. 

"That victory stood for so much more than just rugby, so many people from so many different backgrounds and cultures - we showed that when you come together and buy into a plan and work towards a common goal, that you can achieve greatness. 

"It's still an unbelievable feeling and for me, viewing Chasing the Sun series is so incredible to watch because it brings back so many happy memories."

Fullback Willie le Roux was also one of the Bok heroes in Japan, where he courageously played in the knock-out stages despite hurting his shoulder in the quarter-final victory over hosts, Japan. 

He also said that Chasing the Sun, the five-part DStv documentary showcasing the Springboks’ World Cup victory, has brought back a flood of memories. 

"Growing up as a boy in South Africa that is all you want to do, to play rugby and win the Rugby World Cup,” said Le Roux. 

"The final went by so fast and the documentary series, as well as the replays of the final, gave me chance to look back and truly appreciate the massive occasion. The fans were unbelievable when we came back, and I am so grateful to be a part of such a great success story."

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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