Springboks thank Mzansi for endless motivation

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi thanked South Africa for inspiring them to overcome the All Blacks in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup Final.

“This is for our fans and for South Africa,” said Nienaber after the 12-11 victory. “I wish I could show you the amount of messages and videos of what was going on in South Africa. I think there was 62 million people that united behind us,” he shared.

Nienaber continued: “The farming communities opening up to allow people to watch, paying an entrance fee of whatever they wanted to donate. People have bought green T-shirts for everyone. We felt every single bit of energy they gave us and in the last three games, all one-point victories, that drove us and we needed it.”

Kolisi said: “At the last World Cup the country was hopeful that maybe there was a chance we could win it and what transpired afterwards was the belief between this team. There is not a lot of things going right in our country and we have the privilege to be able to do what we love and inspire people in life, not just sports people. There’s no ways where I come from I could have dreamed to be here today. I couldn’t even dream I could be here today. We come from different walks of life. I had my own goals and ambitions.”

“I want to look after my family, I want to give back to my community because without them I wouldn’t be here. But once we come together for a common goal nothing can stop us,” he shared.

“What brings us together is our country. What brings us together is the Springbok and South Africa and what drives us. I can’t explain it to you, you need to come and see South Africa to understand. Once we come together nothing can stop us, not just in sport but also in life.”

It took a monumental effort to resist an All Black team that was reduced to 14-men in the 28th minute following the red carding of their captain Sam Cane, but which held the Springboks scoreless in the second half.

Nienaber said: “Relief is probably the first word that comes to mind, in the sense of the special group of players we have. As a management and leadership group we always thought ‘we can’t mess this up’.”

“From 2018 we thought we had the ability to win the 2023 World Cup. [The Rugby World Cup win in] 2019 was probably something that hopped up along the way, but it is relief for the players, they were good enough to do that. The Boks had to overcome the loss of hooker Bongi Mbonambi to achieve it in only the third minute.”

Nienaber said: “If you’d asked me which injuries we wouldn’t like early on, it would be Bongi and Faf [de Klerk]. But that’s the decision we made with the squad we selected. There is always risk involved but we mitigated that. I don’t know how many lineouts we lost but with Deon Fourie, if there are maybe 16 lineouts in a game, there are 120, 150 rucks in a game, and he makes 20 tackles. Sometimes the lineouts he loses, he makes up for it in other ways. At whatever age he is – 37 – to put in a shift like that is special. I have coached Deon since he was 20 years old and I always knew he had that dog in him.”

Man of the match Pieter Steph du Toit turned in a herculean effort making 28 tackles and received high praise from Nienaber: “He was phenomenal. Defence is my department and he was exceptional. I must say in the last couple of games, he wanted it desperately. Not only him, but everyone wanted it desperately.”

He put himself in the right positions. I always joke that if there’s a white plastic bag that blows over the field, he would probably chase that down as well. ‘The Malmesbury Missile’, he was like a machine.

“Kolisi said: “Coach Rassie [Erasmus] said great things are never achieved in ideal conditions, and this wasn’t ideal conditions for us as a group. Playing the home team in their home country was one of the hardest things to do and obviously when we played the last game against England, which was tight, we had to fight and today as well, no different.”

“The motivation was everything from home and our families. The coaches created an environment for us where we can be with our families no matter where we are, it feels like we are home. There are 15 to 20 kids running round the hotel. It’s one of the greatest things they could have done for us. People also from South Africa, some of our friends, they’ve used their savings to come and watch us.”For me not to give my 100 per cent on the field would be cheating all those people and that’s what the coaches always remind us of. The motivations for us, we don’t have to look far,” he concluded.

(story credit: SABC Sport)

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