Boks not to blame for fans ‘snub’

Jean de Villiers has apologised for the team not being able to greet Springbok fans at Heathrow airport.

The Boks landed in London on Saturday morning.

'We are aware there were a lot of supporters waiting for us at Heathrow, but unfortunately the organisers took us via an alternative exit to avert the queues at customs and we did not get to see them,' explained De Villiers. 'We’re very sorry about it but it was not in our hands.'

The Boks were welcomed by a delegation led by the South African High Commissioner to the UK, HE Mr Obed Mlaba, as well as representatives from Rugby World Cup (Pty) Ltd, in the Royal Suite at the airport.

The team then set off on a two-hour journey by bus to Eastbourne, where they will be based for the first week of the tournament.

The Boks open their World Cup campaign next Saturday against Japan in Brighton.

'Most of the talk of the last year centred around the World Cup, so it is great to finally be here,' said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. 'We’ve been working incredibly hard for this and I can see the players are ready. They’ve spent the last month sweating on the training field and in the gym and can’t wait to get going.

'The pressure will be on us from the first match and every single Test will pose different challenges. Having said that, the focus will be on what we want to achieve from our four pool matches.

'We’ve mixed up our play a bit earlier this year, but a World Cup is different to the Rugby Championship. Decision-making will be key and although we want to score tries and play attractive rugby, the conditions could dictate a more tactical approach, while we must also not stray from our main strengths.'

De Villiers echoed Meyer's comments:

'The rugby is obviously the main thing, but it’s also important to enjoy this special tournament as it only comes around once every four years,' he said. 'We’ll be seeing parts of England we’ve never been to and the players are very excited to experience new things and new places. We must not lose sight of our ultimate goal, though, and that is to go all the way.

'This will be a very closely contested World Cup – every single one of the top teams have lost at least once this year and past form will count for very little when the action starts on Friday.'

Photo: Scott Heavey/Getty Images

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