RWC 2023 HOMECOMING
Boks reignite hopes of a united South Africa as thousands gather to welcome world champs home
Beyond making history as the first national team to win the Rugby World Cup four times, the Springboks’ victory has reignited a sense of unity and patriotism for South Africans from all walks of life.
‘I remember that 1995 World Cup,” said politician Dennis Bloem. “It was exactly what we see now – that the people are united.”
Bloem, speaking to Daily Maverick at OR Tambo International Airport, was among thousands of supporters who made sure they were at the international arrivals terminal on Tuesday morning to get a glimpse of the Springboks right after they broke the record for most Rugby World Cup wins last Saturday in Paris.
Undeterred by the cold and rain, proud supporters wearing green and gold poured in, singing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
As the team emerged through the sliding doors, led by captain Siya Kolisi holding the Webb Ellis Cup aloft, they were met by a sea of fans, packed together on the ground floor and lined along all three tiers of the terminal to get a closer look at the players.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023
Beyond making history as the first national team to win the Rugby World Cup four times, the defending world champions’ victory has reignited a sense of unity and patriotism in South Africans from all walks of life.
Plagued by crippling socioeconomic problems, high levels of crime and unfettered unemployment, South Africa’s problems usually feel insurmountable. But the Boks’ victory was a reminder of the country’s potential.
Annalena, who travelled from Benoni with her son Rodrigo, said: “This has created such unity in our country. Sometimes we can just be so divided and yet there is so much reason for us to be together and work together because together we can make this place the awesome place that it is. Being here reminds me of the rainbow nation we were promised in 1994.”
Tetelo Rammala, who had travelled from Limpopo to greet the Boks, told Daily Maverick she could not miss the opportunity because there is a lot the nation can learn from the Springboks’ victory:
“We can learn to be one. It’s like all the South Africans are united, like we are one, because of the Boks.”
Also in the crowd was Thabo Moloja, spokesperson for Gauteng’s MEC for sport, who said that “for us, the Boks winning, we’ve been saying that it has improved the happiness index of the country. It has united our people across all races, across all ages. Our country is happy, the Boks have made us proud – especially this year, given what we’ve just come from.”
Another supporter, Celani Gabuza, said: “You try to capture their journey throughout their tournament, and you [realise] to never give up in every moment – the last three matches in particular, one-point winning margins – and they never stopped believing… How much can we do when we believe?”
The Boks’ victory tour kicks off on Thursday in Pretoria, visiting Cape Town and Durban and ending in the Eastern Cape on Sunday. DM