Springboks hail diversity in homecoming World Cup victory tour

rugby05 November 2023 14:00| Β© AFP
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Trophy tour @ Gallo images

The World Cup-winning Springboks wrapped up their multi-city trophy tour on Sunday with thousands of adoring fans flocking to see their heroes up close and personal over four days filled with celebration and pride.

South Africa edged arch-rivals New Zealand 12-11 to achieve a record fourth Rugby World Cup title and their second in a row in a gripping final in Paris a week ago.

The Boks visited Gauteng on Thursday, followed by Cape Town on Friday, Durban on Saturday and East London on Sunday.

On Thursday, Soweto teenagers danced in their school uniforms, as others, young and old, waved South African flags and yellow signs reading "thank you Bokke", waiting for the yellow and green open-top bus carrying the players.

Wearing a green and gold t-shirt, Dined Malise, 49, left home a couple hours before the team's scheduled arrival to get a prime spot along the route.

"I'm so proud about my Bokke (Springboks), especially my captain," she said before breaking into a "Viva Bokke, Viva!" cry of joy.

Supporters erupted in a loud cheer as the players, wearing yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the team's motto "Stronger Together", rode through one Soweto's main streets, with captain Siya Kolisi rallying the crowd from the front, holding the Webb Ellis Cup.


The team began its victory tour on Thursday in Pretoria, where the country's President Cyril Ramaphosa hailed the players for uniting a country with a divisive past.

"Saturday night, you strode off the pitch of victory and passed into legend," said Ramaphosa, who this week declared a public holiday on 15 December to celebrate the win.

"In doing so you have lifted the spirits of an entire nation and filled us with pride."

For 90 years, Springbok selectors chose only white players, with black and mixed-race athletes sequestered in separate leagues.

That started to change after the advent of democracy in 1994, with Nelson Mandela famously rallying behind the team that won its first World Cup in 1995.

"This is the one time where everybody forgets whether they are black or white," said Vincent Mokgako, 65, sitting just outside the house where Mandela used to live in Soweto, now a museum.

"This is this is a legacy that Mandela left, that sports always brings people together," he said.


In recent years, Kolisi, 32, has been pivotal in bringing many young, black South Africans closer to the sport.

"We are very diverse, just like you are outside there and we just wanted to show that diversity is our strength," Kolisi, the Springboks' first black test captain, said earlier dedicating the trophy to "the people of South Africa".

"The performance of the Springboks...has reminded us that even amidst our many challenges, there is always room for optimism and hope," said Ramaphosa.

Here are some special moments captured during the trophy tour: