The victorious Springboks, fresh from their World Cup triumph in Paris, embarked on a four-day homecoming tour in Pretoria. President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the team at the Union Buildings, hailing them for uniting a nation that has grappled with a divisive past.
The Springboks clinched their fourth World Cup title with a hard-fought 12-11 win over arch-rivals New Zealand. Their achievement is especially significant given the team’s history as a symbol of apartheid-era divisions.
Ramaphosa praised the players, stating, “Saturday night, you strode off the pitch of victory and passed into legend. In doing so, you have lifted the spirits of an entire nation and filled us with pride. You have united the South African people.”
Thousands of jubilant fans lined the streets to greet the team, celebrating a group that has come to represent the heart of the nation. Captain Siya Kolisi, the first black Test captain of the Springboks, dedicated the trophy to “the people of South Africa,” emphasising the strength found in their diversity.
For much of its history, the Springbok team was exclusively composed of white players, while black and mixed-race athletes were segregated into separate leagues. This changed after the end of apartheid in 1994, with Nelson Mandela famously rallying behind the team that secured their first World Cup victory in 1995.
The recent success of the Springboks has brought joy to a nation grappling with severe economic disparities and various crises. President Ramaphosa noted, “The performance of the Springboks…has reminded us that even amidst our many challenges, there is always room for optimism and hope.”
The Springboks’ homecoming tour will continue in Johannesburg, Soweto, Cape Town, Durban, and East London, allowing fans across the country to celebrate their achievement.