SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has paid tribute to the Springboks and their supporters following their return from the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The Springboks arrived in South Africa on Tuesday and were met by more than 10,000 supporters at OR Tambo International Airport, all of whom were there to get a glimpse of their heroes and the Webb Ellis Cup.
Alexander congratulated Bok coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi for their World Cup triumph.
‘What Rassie, Siya and our team achieved in Japan is truly exceptional,’ Alexander said. ‘To see thousands of South Africans take hands, sing, dance and rejoice at their achievement yesterday, warmed my heart and gave me hope for our wonderfully diverse country.
‘Thank you, Rassie and the Boks, for lifting our spirits in the last two months. We really are stronger, together.’
Alexander also thanked the players for their role in the Springboks’ success.
‘A few years ago, we were languishing low down in the world rankings, but we are No 1 now – for the first time in 10 years – and walked away with an armful of accolades at the recent World Rugby Awards.
‘To Siya, Handre and your teammates, thank you.
‘Our two electric try-scorers in the final, Cheslin and Makazole; our World Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph; Man of the Match in the final, Duane; all other squad members; Jesse and Trevor, who had to return home from Japan; their replacements in Damian and Thomas; and the others who were part of the wider squad but didn’t make the final selection to Japan – all of you played a massive role.
‘And the Boks’ hard-working team management also deserve praise. Most of them operate far away from the public eye, but they poured every ounce of energy into this campaign and helped to make it a success.’
Alexander said there was much to look forward to in the next few years in South African rugby, with the game at a positive point in its history, but that hard work awaits to ensure the Springboks remain consistent.
‘It’s exciting times for rugby in our country – in two years’ time we welcome the British & Irish Lions to South Africa in what will be a typically tough and uncompromising series, and in 2022 we’re hosting the World Cup Sevens in Cape Town.
‘Next year, our Blitzboks will aim to emulate the Springboks achievement in Tokyo at the Olympic Games and in 2021 the Springbok Women will play in the Rugby World Cup.
‘The SA Schools and Junior Bok teams are creating a pathway to the top for our elite young players; we have an exciting new Vodacom Super Rugby format to look forward to from next year; our teams are starting to find their feet in the PRO14; and the Currie Cup was as brilliant as ever this year.’
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