From left, Zubair Amod, Hirosini Rooplal, Leon Chetty, Brenda Appalsamy, and Vuyo Mchithwa took a break from work to welcome home the victorious Springboks. Picture: Duncan Guy.

DURBAN - Fans gave Tendai Mtawarira a trademark “Be-ee-ee-ast” roar as he left the steps of the Durban City Hall to board the bus taking him and his victorious Springbok World Cup team mates to their next stop on their welcome home tour of the city.

The legendary Zimbabwe-born player, who announced his retirement from international rugby after the event in Japan, was the last of the squad to walk the cordoned off pathway to their transport.

Captain Siya Kolisi also who won loud applause as the crowd chanted his name, interspersed with singing “Shosholoza”, throughout the visit.

His wife, Rachel, who walked alone down the walkway, received particularly strong applause from a group of women whose hands she shook.

A sea of raised hands, fists and cellphones were among the flags.

Many people in the crowd were office workers from companies in the central business district.

“It’s the pride of the nation to welcome back our great  heroes,” said an emotional Sachin Purai, from Maersk Shipping.

“It’s nation building,” added his colleague Leon Chetty.

Phumzile Sibisi, also out of the office for the historic event, said she wanted to hug Kolisi and Faf de Klerk.

“I felt as if I was playing rugby on my couch while I was watching the game on television,” she said. “I was screaming so much.” 

eThekwini Municipality finance department employee Spha Zindela, who watched the final against England in a pub last Saturday, said the Springboks’ winning “just united us as a whole”.

“This will help us come together,” he said.

The Independent on Saturday