'No. This is your moment' - Why coach Rassie wouldn't lift the World Cup trophy with captain Kolisi

05 November 2019 - 22:22 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Siya Kolisi with the trophy during the South African national rugby team arrival media conference at OR Tambo International Airport on November 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Siya Kolisi with the trophy during the South African national rugby team arrival media conference at OR Tambo International Airport on November 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi wanted to hoist the Rugby World Cup trophy with coach Johan "Rassie" Erasmus - but the man in charge didn't want to.

“I asked Rassie if he could lift the trophy with me. He said: 'No‚ this is your moment'," Kolisi said, lauding his coach's selflessness.

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Kolisi, the first black Springbok captain to lift the trophy, was speaking after arriving back in South Africa after becoming the third South African to captain a Rugby World Cup winning team.

But for the 28-year-old Kolisi, the win was about more than hoisting the coveted trophy above his head. And it was also not only about proving that anything is possible and achieving dreams. It was about family, about taking opportunities and about a deep understanding of the paths many of his teammates had to take to get into the national team.

Kolisi lifted the trophy in front of his dad, Fezakele‚ who was at the final in Japan at the weekend. It was a special moment for Kolisi‚ whose family was also there to witness the moment.

“I am very grateful and I was happy to have my dad there. I think I told my teammates that it was one of my dad's dreams to take me to places around the world, and that's why I'm so grateful to rugby. It's allowed me to do such things, and I'm really proud that he could be there to share the moment with me. The team loved him and it was a very special moment for me‚” Kolisi said.

The Springboks touched down in SA on Tuesday November 5 2019 after their 32-12 win over England in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan. The squad arrived at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, where thousands of South Africans were waiting for them - proving once again that the country will always back our boys.

A visibly tired - but jubilant - Kolisi walked into the press room at OR Tambo International Airport with the Webb Ellis Cup in hand after arriving back in SA from Japan on Tuesday night.

He told a press conference: “It also showed my kids that family is very important. If you can do something for someone‚ then you must do it.

"The most important thing was that people knew what we were fighting for. Prince Harry came into our changing room [and] told us that he knew what was going on and our country needed this.

"It reminded us of the human drive that it's not about you. It's about the people in this room and those who are outside.”

The final‚ which South Africa won 32-12 against England in Yokohama on Saturday‚ was Kolisi's 50th Test. He debuted against Scotland in Mbombela in 2013, when he came off the bench for the injured Arno Botha.

Kolisi made the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad but never started a Test under former coach Heyneke Meyer.

Current Springbok coach Johan “Rassie” Erasmus backed him with the captaincy - and it's certainly paid off.

For Kolisi‚ it was all about getting an opportunity and making it count when it arrives.

“Anything can be overcome if you get the opportunity. When I was younger‚ my drive was to go to training every day and I was preparing myself for an opportunity - just in case. When it did come I was ready and I took it with both hands when I got a scholarship‚” Kolisi said.

“It can be done‚ even though things are tough‚ but they can get better. If a guy like Makazole Mapimpi can come from where he comes from and make it‚ it shows that it's possible.

"The most important thing is that you mustn't listen to people who say you can't do it. I want to tell the kids that they must keep dreaming and keep believing.”