Durban is awash with green and gold as the city prepares to welcome the Rugby World Cup champions when they embark on their victory tour today.
From paupers to the president, the mood is jubilant as South Africans have been cheering, smiling and scrumming around them since they started trekbokking the country to pay tribute to their supporters on Thursday.
“The Boks will transfer to KwaZulu-Natal early on Saturday morning for their tour starting at the Garden Court Hotel in uMhlanga at approximately 9.30am, heading towards the Durban City Hall and finally uShaka Marine World, where they are expected at around 1.45pm,” SA Rugby said on its website.
This week thousands of people turned up at airports and lined streets to honour the players and catch a glimpse of the Webb Ellis trophy.
Hailed as a hero - and some even suggested future president - Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said the team was a force to be reckoned with because of its diversity.
“Security in Durban will be tighter to prevent them from being mobbed like in Gauteng,” warned Jeannie Sarno from Umhlanga Tourism.
Sarno says they are proud to welcome the team back to uMhlanga where they were also based following their World Cup win in 2019.
She believes that Madiba sparked hope in the nation by touching the Webb Ellis trophy in 1995, and the Springboks have continued to do so with their winning performances.
In a surreal turn of events, exactly a week ago today the country was on tenterhooks hoping that the men in green and gold would win against New Zealand.
Anguished screams of ‘whaa’ during the final minutes of the game quickly turned into jubilant rahs, peppered with sounds of the vuvuzela, when the Boks became the first team in history to lift the Webb Ellis trophy four times.
They brought home the cup, inspired the nation and picked up a special public holiday along the way.
As expected, South Africans responded to each match with memes, tweets and Tiktok videos that had the country in stitches during the tournament.
SA Rugby Union president Mark Alexander said: “Each of the Springboks’ thrilling one-point victories in the three playoff matches resonated with millions of South Africans, as social media was packed with celebratory videos, culminating in Saturday’s 12-11 win over New Zealand.”
“The TikToks, YouTube videos, and Facebook posts of fans reacting to the Bok victories played a significant role in motivating the team to give their all as the clock ticked down to the final whistle on Saturday night,” said Alexander.
He said they would try to reach as many people as possible this week to show appreciation for their support, but that it was not the end. Ongoing planning would enable the Boks to visit all major centres in each province over time. “With the Cup in our possession for another four years, there’s ample opportunity for that.”
From uMhlanga the victory tour will travel to KwaMashu and then zigzag its way to the main event at City Hall today.
The eThekwini Municipality this week called on its citizens to line the streets and pay homage to the world champions. The Springboks will be accompanied by Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba on their travels through the city.
“Safety and security measures will be rigorously implemented along the route and at viewing points to guarantee a safe and unforgettable celebration,” the city said in a statement.
While the Sharks won't be in Durban to welcome the Boks, as they are currently playing in the UK, the team’s publicity head Novashni Chetty said all their staff would join their fellow countrymen today.
A quick call to Northlands Primary School, which is among the most ardent of Springbok supporters, revealed that everyone was “absolutely exhausted” after the World Cup and that the pupils and their parents would celebrate in their own way today.
From Durban, the Springboks travel to East London before going their separate ways.
But for today they are in Durban, the fans are waiting and even the weather is playing ball.
With respect to the Beatles; the sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are a nation's dreams that come true.
The Independent on Saturday