Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has called on South Africans of all races to keep the spirit and good energy created by the Boks’ Rugby World Cup victory going long after the celebrations die down in the coming days.
Erasmus celebrated his 47th birthday on Tuesday, while captain Siya Kolisi was cheered as he led the victorious Bok team back to South Africa from Japan. Thousands of fans welcomed the team home at OR Tambo International Airport in a show of appreciation and celebration.
“If I had one wish though,” said Erasmus, “it would be for this, what we see here at the airport, to last longer than previously.
“It’s wonderful that we’re celebrating the achievements of Pieter-Steph du Toit (who was named World Player of the Year on Sunday) and Siya, and that it’s my birthday, and the players, but I’d like all of us, black and white, of different religions, to come together, to work together, and get it right.
“We must use this (victory) as a springboard to also make the Springboks win consistently. We’ll enjoy this, but we also need to keep it going.” Erasmus said South Africa had failed to make the most of the good vibes created after the victories in 1995 and 2007.
Reflecting on last Saturday’s final, which the Boks won 32-12 against England and played a far more expansive game than they did in the quarter-final against Japan and semi-final against Wales, Erasmus said: “We didn’t hide anything for the final. The players simply played what they saw and they used the platform that had been laid out for them; credit to them for doing that. Then it was simply left to the magic of Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am and Cheslin Kolbe.”
Captain Kolisi, who is the Boks’ first black captain and hails from an impoverished background, again reiterated that “everything is possible if you believe it possible.”
That special moment 🏆🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/lzlVyBjaKE
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 5, 2019
“Anything can be overcome with opportunity,” he told a packed media conference.
“When I was a small child in the Eastern Cape I trained every day, preparing myself that when the opportunity came I would be ready. It came and I took it with both hands. It can be done, it is possible.
“Of course we’d all like for it not to be so tough (to get an opportunity in life). We hope that things get better for everyone (in South Africa). The most important thing is that you mustn’t listen to people who tell you, you can’t. It is up to every individual to keep believing, keep pushing.”
Kolisi added he’d “love” for the majority of this group to stay together to hunt for more glory, but that would be up to Erasmus, who will stay on as SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, but not head coach. “It’s up to coach Rassie. He’ll let us know in the coming days (what’s happening with the coaching team). A lot of us are committed to South African rugby and are staying here, so we’ll be available.”