Maverick Citizen

RWC 2023

‘The Springboks reignited our dreams’ — East London fans weep with joy as trophy tour bus rolls into town

‘The Springboks reignited our dreams’ — East London fans weep with joy as trophy tour bus rolls into town
Springboks fans cheer at the Garden Court in East London on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

The Springbok World Cup trophy tour brought East London to a standstill, with residents saying the team’s victory has reignited the dreams of many struggling Eastern Cape residents who lined up in their thousands to see their heroes on Sunday.

Thousands of spectators who arrived to see the Springbok trophy tour in East London this weekend screamed and cried at the sight of the bus carrying members of the victorious World Cup squad. Many said they had given up on their dreams, but the Boks’ victory had reignited their hopes.

Captain Siya Kolisi did not contain his excitement as the bus entered Mdantsane and children were shouting “Nothing is impossible, boys. You have shown us! Go Bokke go!”

Ten World Cup squad members were absent from the Eastern Cape leg of the tour. Faf de Klerk, who said on social media that he had to attend a funeral, Cheslin Kolbe, Damian Willemse and Handrè Pollard were not present and neither were Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Damien de Allende, Willie le Roux and RG Snyman. Some did not attend due to injury while others had club rugby commitments.

Springboks

Springbok supporters welcome the players in East London on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Thank God for the Springboks

Namhla Solwandle was among the women who brought their babies to see the trophy tour.

“It is an exciting day not just for me but for my kids and particularly my daughter Linamandla – it is her crown birthday, she is turning five years old and all she wanted was to see Siya Kolisi,” she said.

“Today I am filled with exhilaration, a proud South African and a proud mom, absolutely grateful to God for the Springboks who came to lift our spirits. Not only here but everywhere in the country.”

We have lost our relatives, friends and parents and we face unemployment. The Springbok victory has restored hope to many of us.

The Eastern Cape Springboks took the lead in the celebrations – Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi, who hails from a village near Mdantsane, Jaden Hendrikse from Breidbach near Qonce (King William’s Town), Lukhanyo Am, also from Qonce, and Manie Libbok, who is from Humansdorp.

Sikelelwe Gxotani, who is originally from Tsholomnqa, said the Springbok win lifted the spirits of many rural young sport enthusiasts.

Springbok fans outside the Garden Court in East London welcome the Boks on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Patients wave to Springbok players at Frere Hospital in East London on 5 November 2023.(Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

“In the Eastern Cape many families are still recovering from the Covid-19 disaster. We have lost our relatives, friends and parents and we face unemployment. The Springbok victory has restored hope to many of us,” Gxotani said.

“Some of us, like me, have already lost hope in our lives, but the Springboks showed us that nothing is impossible,” she said. 

“I started a business in 2021, but it did not go well. This victory gives us hope that we can achieve our goals.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Outcry as Bok Trophy Tour skips Kolisi’s hometown Gqeberha: ‘We need to see our Siya’

“Mapimpi is from my home village in Tsholomnqa in East London and we are proud of him. We are proud of his success. All of them restore hope that even if you are coming from a rural area you can achieve your goal.”

Gxotani, who is from the Gqala locality in Tsholomnqa, said they have produced many professional players in Tsholomnqa, although Mapimpi is the first to lift the World Cup trophy.

“The Springboks’ victory shows us that we can be united and defeat racism and achieve our dreams. This also lifted our spirits,” he added.

Namhla Solwandle with her daughter Linamandla (5) on her birthday as they welcome the Boks in East London on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Satellite tour

SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer has promised to bring a satellite tour to Nelson Mandela Bay, Kolisi’s home town. Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is from Despatch, which is also part of the metro, and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick is from the metro. 

Nelson Mandela Bay, known for its rugby-obsessed residents, was not on the trophy tour schedule despite an avalanche of correspondence from City leaders and Eastern Province Rugby Union representatives protesting against the decision. 

In a letter to the CEO of the metro’s business chamber, Denise van Huyssteen, Oberholzer explained that the “sole reason for the decision” to exclude Nelson Mandela Bay from the tour was that SA Rugby would be announcing “another major Springbok event” for the city. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023

“Had we brought the tour and that event to the Bay, we would have faced questions as to why we had ignored other parts of the Eastern Cape. This way we are able to reach more South Africans.”

He promised there would be a satellite tour in 2024, bringing the trophy to Nelson Mandela Bay. DM

From left: Manie Libbok, Makazole Mapimpi and captain Siya Kolisi wave to supporters in East London on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Hundreds of Bok supporters escort the bus in East London on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

A young Mdantsane boy carries a photograph of Naleson Mandela during the Bok trophy tour in East London on 5 November 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

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