Siya Kolisi believes South Africa’s Rugby World Cup final victory over England shows the country can “achieve anything if we work together as one”.
The Springboks overpowered England in Yokohama to secure a 32-12 triumph, second-half tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe sealing an emphatic win after six Handre Pollard penalties.
As a result, 24 years after Francois Pienaar accepted the Webb Ellis Cup from Nelson Mandela in one of sport’s most iconic moments, there was another inspirational scene as Kolisi – South Africa’s first black captain – lifted the same trophy.
In a stirring post-match interview, Kolisi said he hoped South Africa’s success could inspire people throughout the nation.
“The people of South Africa have got behind us and we are so grateful to the people of South Africa,” said Kolisi, who grew up in poverty and watched the Boks’ 2007 World Cup win in a township tavern.
“We have so many problems in our country, but to have a team like this, we come from different backgrounds, different races and we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it. I really hope we’ve done that for South Africa, to show that we can pull together if we want to and achieve something.
“Since I’ve been alive, I’ve never seen South Africa like this. Obviously in ’95, what the World Cup did for us [was special], and now with all the challenges we are having, the coach [Rassie Erasmus] just came and told us [after] the last game, ‘we’re not playing for ourselves any more, we’re playing for our people back home’.
“That’s what we wanted to do today and we really appreciate all the support, people in the taverns, people in the farms, homeless people, there were screens there, and people in rural areas, thank you so much.
“We appreciate all the support, we love you South Africa and we can achieve anything if we work together as one.”