Fairy tale ending for Bok skipper Kolisi

Fairy tale ending for Bok skipper Kolisi

Lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy has capped off a fairytale story for Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) congratulates South Africa's flanker Siya Kolisi (L) as they celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup  / AFP
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) congratulates South Africa's flanker Siya Kolisi (L) as they celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup / AFP

Sitting in the front row of a packed press conference room, I couldn't help but smile as Rassie Erasmus walked into the room followed by Siya Kolisi.

In his hands was the William Webb Ellis trophy, glinting as he strode into the room. Kolisi set it down in front of him as he took his seat - no man more deserving to have the trophy in his possession. 

It had been less than an hour since Kolisi had been handed the coveted trophy so it was difficult for the Springbok skipper to describe his emotions as I asked him what was going through his mind as he hoisted the cup. 

“I honestly can’t explain how I was feeling, seeing the joy in my team-mates’ faces was the best thing for me as I know how hard they have worked and the coaches have worked," Kolisi said. 

It is difficult to describe the emotion of the moment as a spectator as well. Seasoned South African journalists were brought to tears around me and I had to fight back the tears as well. 

The magnitude of the moment has definitely been spurred on by the talk of unity in the Springbok team and how that can be used as an example to the rest of the nation. 

But the most powerful story to tell is that of Kolisi himself. It was fitting that Erasmus, the man who gave Kolisi his first professional contract, was the one to highlight the significance of the skipper's achievement. 

“We had a good chat yesterday when we did the jersey presentation for the 50th test match. It is easy to talk about going through hard times and struggling to get opportunities but it is tough when there are days when you didn’t have food or couldn’t go to school or didn’t have shoes to wear," Erasmus explained. 

“When you sit down and think about it, there was a stage when Siya didn’t have food to eat and, yes, that is the captain and he led South Africa to hold this Cup and that is what Siya is.”

Throughout the World Cup there has been an overarching theme of unity within the Springbok camp. 

READ: Springboks crowned Rugby World Cup champions

More so this week, as Kolisi spoke passionately of the diverse group of people that make up the Springbok setuo and how their ability to come together in search of achieving a common goal has been key to their success. 

On Saturday night that goal was realised culminating in Kolisi lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy in front of the 70000 fans packed into the International Stadium Yokohama. 

It is a moment I will never forget and one that should inspire all South Africans to realise the power of unity. 

That is exactly what Kolisi said when asked about the power of their achievement. 

"Since I have been alive I have never seen South Africa like this. With all the challenges we have, the coach said to us that we are not playing for ourselves any more, we are playing for the people back home - that is what we wanted to do today," Kolisi said. 

"We appreciate all the support - people in the taverns, in the shebeens, farms, homeless people - there were screens there - and people in the rural areas. Thank you so much, we appreciate the support. We love you South Africa and we can achieve anything if we work together as one."

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