JOHANNESBURG - Springboks captain Siya Kolisi and coach Rassie Erasmus have touched down on home soil with the Webb Ellis Trophy on Tuesday.
Hundreds of fans gathered the at the OR Tambo International Airport's arrival hall to give the team a heroes welcome after they bagged the trophy at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“We know that we go through a lot of challenges in South Africa… and we all knew that if we lost another game, that was it for us. Like I said earlier, without the support of the people here [we wouldn’t have made it]. We had our people with us and it was really special for us. People might be learning from us but everything we did there, we got from the people of South Africa,” the Boks captain said.
Kolisi said Erasmus motivated them throughout the tournament and the support from South Africans fuelled their drive.
Kolisi said: “We won because we wanted it a lot. The people here gave us another reason to want it even harder.”
Kolisi said winning the tournament was a very proud moment for him and the rest of the team, including the special guest - his father - who flew all the way to Japan just to watch the final match.
“I was actually happy to have my dad there. I’m sure it was my dad’s dream to take me to these places, but he didn’t have the means. I’m really proud that he could be there, and it was special for me.”
He also thanked Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, Miss SA Zozibini Tunzi, Britain's Prince Harry for their support and most importantly, the team's supporting staff.
“The coaching staff has been really amazing, they work really hard.”
WATCH LIVE: Kolisi, Erasmus & the Webb Ellis Cup touch down in SA
Erasmus said playing in Japan was both good and bad: “I think the saddest past was yesterday when we had to leave.”
He said he tried to show the team that pressure was not something for the rugby field, especially with the problems South Africa is facing.
“… and we train hard. They were very professional, and we wanted to win it for South Africa, it was about the people back home who were watching... If I had one wish for this world cup, [it would be to] let Siya have some glory for now. It’s going to last for a month or two but what we want to last for a long time is what we’re seeing here at the airport. All these people united.”
Earlier, Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe said he was proud of the victory clinched by the team.
Speaking at a media briefing at the OR Tambo International Airport, Kolbe - who scored the second of two tries in the final - said there was a long road ahead.
“I am really proud of the boys. The World Cup is done, but I am sure there’s still a lot of work that can be done.”
The winger said he was grateful for the support from South Africans.
“We thank you, South Africa, for sharing this moment with us. We’re humbled and we thank you for all your support.”
He arrived earlier with World Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk and forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, Duane Vermeulen, Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi among others.
“The lesson we can take from our springboks is that in the field of play, they were single-minded, and their win covered our country with glory. We should not be distracted by anybody and this we should use as a fanbase to unite our people,” said Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
This article first appeared on EWN : South Africans gave us reasons to win - says Kolisi