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The Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Ms Thandi Modise, welcomed the Springbok rugby team to Parliament this morning. “Siya, we say from the bottom of our hearts, congratulations to all you guys. We are saying congrats also to your families and to the entire South African nation. Your victory unites us,” said Ms Modise.

The Springboks arrived in Parliament this morning as part of the team’s final leg of its victory tour of South Africa, after defeating England in the final match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan earlier this month. Before its victory parade in Cape Town, the team stopped at Parliament, where it was welcomed by Members of Parliament from both Houses in front of the National Assembly Chamber.

In a atmosphere of jubilation that filled the entire parliamentary precinct, Ms Modise told the Springboks that their victory has helped South Africans forget about their troubles. The victory has allowed South Africans look ahead and focus on what “will make us proud and great”, Ms Modise said. “Keep it up,” she urged the team.

Responding to these congratulatory words, the President of the South African Rugby Union, Mr Mark Alexander, thanked Parliament and the nation for supporting the team. The Springbok victory could not have been achieved without the support the team received throughout the competition from all South Africans. “We received Whatsapp voice messages, video clips and many other forms of communication in support. We say thank you very, very much,” emphasised Mr Alexander.

Also expressing appreciation to Parliament on behalf of the team, captain Mr Siyabonga “Siya” Kolisi thanked everyone for their support. “Thank you for carrying us tirelessly on your shoulders. We are a beautiful diversity that makes a meaningful contribution to strengthening the unity of the South African nation,” he said.

In a vote of thanks on behalf of Parliament, the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Sylvia Lucas, said the team has made Parliament proud “... about you, your presence here at Parliament and, above all, your victory,” Ms Lucas said. She told Mr Kolisi that Parliament sees this victory as a pillar to take forward the project of nation-building. “Siyakuthanda Siya.”

South Africa won 32-12 against England at the 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan. This year is the third time that the Springboks have won the Webb Ellis Cup. The first time that the South African hands of former President Nelson Mandela and the team captain Mr Francois Pienaar held that cup was in 1995, when the Springboks won in a final against New Zealand.

The team won for the second time in 2007 against England, where the Webb Ellis Cup was held aloft by former President Thabo Mbeki and team captain Mr John Smit. “This year’s team has amplified the spirit of unity and nation-building that was experienced in 1995, which indicates that sport plays an important and catalytic role in social cohesion and comradery,” said the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms Beauty Dlulane in a statement the committee released after it defeated England.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, Mr Boyce Maneli, also applauded the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for the live broadcast of the last two matches of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. This allowed millions of South Africans from all walks of life to rally behind the Springboks. The country watched the last two matches on free-to-air television channel SABC2 and listened in on 11 radio stations.

Mava Lukani
11 November 2019