World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper says the first World Cup in Asia is comparable to the first World Cup in Africa, with the Springbok team capable of writing its own history.
Speaking at the team’s official welcoming ceremony in Tokyo, Gosper welcomed the Springboks to the tournament at a cultural event which culminated in a team capping. He said he sensed a rising Springbok tide and added that South Africa had contributed much to Rugby World Cup history.
‘From the Mandela Match in 1995 with Francois Pienaar, and victory again in France in 2007 and the match that was referred to as the Miracle in Brighton in 2015.
‘What I can sense about this team is the rising capability that you are going to write your own history. I am sure that you will be great ambassadors during this Rugby World Cup and inspire a generation of players not only in your own country but across the world,’ Gosper said.
‘This medal and cap symbolise the sacrifices you have made to get here and will together recall the lifelong memories and friendships that you will make during this Rugby World Cup.’
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanked World Rugby and Japan for the preparations and lengths to which they had gone to prepare the tournament and provide for every need of the team.
‘This may be our official welcoming ceremony but we have been here for 14 days and we have been made to feel welcome every single day,’ Kolisi commented.
‘The kindness and hospitality shown by the Japanese people has been amazing and I am sure we are in for an unforgettable Rugby World Cup.’
The Springboks’ opening match of the tournament is against defending champions New Zealand in Yokohama this Saturday.