Bok supporters in Durban disappointed by Siya Kolisi's absence but happy to be part of history
Springbok stars Makazole Mapimpi and Grant Williams have thanked the legions of South African fans for their support which ensured they retained the Webb Ellis Cup in France last weekend.
Mapimpi and Wiliams were speaking during the Durban leg of the Springbok trophy tour on Saturday.
“Most of my teammates saw how social media was abuzz with videos of supporters that were rallying behind us. The support was amazing,” said Mapimpi.
Mapimpi, who played a starring role when the Boks won the 2019 tournament in Japan, had his campaign cut short by an injury in a pool match against Tonga.
Scrumhalf Williams, who played in his maiden world cup this year, said the victory still seemed surreal.
“It was more of a learning experience for me. Inasmuch as it was tough it was also an awesome and a good experience for me,’’ said Williams.
He attributed their achievement to sticking together as a unit.
“It was the togetherness which saw us emerge as the winners of the world cup,” said Williams.
This is something he also hopes will help the development of the sport in the country, especially domestic tournaments such as the Currie Cup.
While the tour went well, Durbanites were disappointed by the absence of skipper Siya Kolisi.
Nonetheless, the tour brought the coastal city to a standstill with thousands of fans lining the streets to see the Webb Ellis trophy and their favourites players.
Pinetown resident Ralph Todd hailed the Springboks who took some time to sign the merchandise of fans.
“After such a long tournament I take my hat off to some of the players. This was such a thrilling encounter because I could hardly even hold my cellphone camera still today,” said Todd.
He mentioned Eben Etzebeth and Handrè Pollard as being among his favourite players.
In KwaMashu township north of Durban, young and old supporters waited patiently to see their superstars and the trophy.
Dignitaries including KwaZulu-Natal premier Nomusa Dube and economic development and environmental affairs MEC Siboniso Duma were also present.
KwaMashu resident Nelly Ndlovu said the event was a reminder of her late father who succumbed to injuries after an accident in 1995, the year the Boks clinched their maiden Webb Ellis Cup.
Her late father had been an ardent supporter of the Boks and former player Joel Stransky was his favourite.
“After the incident our support for the Springboks never wavered. In fact it’s spilt over to other sporting codes like cricket. I am hopeful that the Proteas will emulate their counterparts,” said Ndlovu.
Despite all the sporting fanfare, political parties could not miss the chance to show their muscle with both ANC and IFP supporters making themselves visible during the parade.
“We had to be here to hail these heroes,” said Mathemba Mgabhi, also from KwaMashu.
Some fans were unhappy they did not get enough time to see their heroes.
As the double-decker bus carrying the players zipped by some youngsters could be heard screaming “Elizabeth! Elizabeth!” in reference to lock Eben Etzebeth.
Diehard rugby fanatic Khotsafasto Mokhethi, 34, said he was thrilled to see the Boks.
“Had Mapimpi not had an injury I am pretty confident that we would have won this world cup with a big margin,” he said.
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