July 13, 2024

Siya Kolisi: “RWC victory was for every South African”

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said the team’s back-to-back Rugby World Cup victories was not for the players, but for every South African as the team touched down on local soil at a packed OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday.

Kolisi elaborated by saying they hoped the team inspired people from all walks of life to strive for their dreams and to realise that anything is possible.

Thousands of supporters arrived at the airport to welcome the Boks back home, and for Kolisi, it underlined what their mission in France was all about.

“Today, South Africa showed us exactly who we did it for,” said an elated Kolisi.

“On behalf of the team we’d like to thank the people of South Africa. It was a tough 20 weeks, but there was four years of planning behind that.

“When we won the World Cup in 2019, people didn’t think we would do it – instead, they were hopeful because the plan was always for 2023, but things changed and we won in 2019, and this time our people expected us to win.

“This was not about us as players, this victory was for every South African, and we showed what is possible with this diverse team.”

Kolisi added: “The coaching staff knew how to align us as a group. This trophy was for the people for the people experiencing tough circumstances, those in Zwide, Goodwood and Malmesbury, and all other communities and townships, but also for those who are more well to do, and everyone who want to make something of their lives.

“As a team want to be a reference point for our people, to show them how we can do it, and hopefully they’ll get hope from this team.

“Another important thing for us was to transform while winning. But we’d also like this to extend beyond sport and what is happening in South Africa, and how people see things going forward.

“We may not be able to change people’s circumstances, but we can give hope we can inspire people.”

South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture of South Africa, Zizi Kodwa, lauded the team for what they achieved to unite the nation.

“The team’s performances on and off the field was an expression of former President Nelson Mandela’s saying that ‘sport has the power to change the world, sport can create hope where once there was only despair’,” said Kodwa.

“This victory pays homage to his vision, and it’s a dream and to see the nation so united. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the President of the country and the Deputy Minister for coming to France to the support the team.”

Mark Alexander, President of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), also praised the thousands of supporters who awaited the team from the early hours of the morning at the airport on Tuesday: “We have deep gratitude to the supporters here today and to welcome the four-time world champions back in the country.

“The videos we saw from back home was instrumental in motivating the team and they forged hope in the nation that desperately needed it. The Springboks will begin their trophy tour on Thursday where they will share in the celebrations with the passionate citizens of South Africa,” added Alexander.

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