Pretoria - The Springboks sent the capital city into throes of excitement and ecstasy yesterday.
The huge Pretoria base of adoring fans came out for the trophy parade. Through a sea of green and gold, the bus carrying the 2019 Rugby World Cup champions snaked its way through the streets in a victory parade like none other.
First stop was with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Building, just after 8am.
The crowd cheered when Ramaphosa arrived on the makeshift stage to meet the team led by coach Rassie Erasmus.
Several government ministers, including Bheki Cele, Patricia de Lille and Pravin Gordhan, and officials of the SA Rugby Union were present.
“The Springboks have made us proud and have even made history. They are the only team to win the Webb Ellis trophy on three different continents - Africa, Europe and Asia,” said Ramaphosa.
“I must confess though that during the match I did have feelings of nervousness.
“When they scored their first try I had gone to the gents because of my own nervousness.
“When I came back, I found that we had scored a try and then (there was) a second try.
“This was the first time that we have had tries in a final. We must applaud our team for doing that.”
Ramaphosa was presented with the coveted Webb Ellis Trophy by Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi. The captain then paid tribute to Erasmus and the multitudes of fans across the world who rallied behind the South African team at the weekend against England.
Kolisi was overcome by emotions as he thanked the “16th member” of the team - the fans. “We really couldn’t have done it without them. We saw the videos and pictures on social media when we were in Japan; it was inspiring.”
The players were driven round in an open bus along the streets - which were lined with pupils and grown-ups alike, as they showed off their respective silverware.
They meandered through the city, going past Loftus Versfeld Stadium, parts of Hatfield and Sunnyside, ad Church Square before making a final stop at Tshwane House on Madiba Street, where they met Executive Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa.
Thousands of fans lined the streets to greet the champions. They hooted, took photos and videos, posed for selfies and marvelled at the trophy and players.
Players openly showed their appreciation to the many supporters who cheered them on.
Apart from Kolisi, other players who proved to be popular among the fans were Makazole Mapimpi and Faf de Klerk.
While most were jubilant and beamed with joy that the Springboks had lifted the prestigious Webb Ellis Cup for the third time, others were overcome by emotion and they openly shed tears of joy.
Public servants, petrol attendants, learners, drug users, office workers and residents all paused for a moment as the bus, escorted by both the SA Rugby Union and Tshwane Metro Police officers, drove past.
With the streets so tightly packed, some brave fans clambered on to rooftops to get a better view and salute their heroes.
This was followed roaring cheers, hugs and kisses.
The buzz was more electrifying when they arrived at Tshwane House to an even bigger reception, where loud music was playing coupled with a vibrant audience.
And if you thought you could get your hands on the trophy, think again. The SA Rugby Union said it had appointed a special person to manage the movement of the trophy during the parade. Only winning squad members and authorised personnel were allowed to touch it, and with the exception of the players, all other authorised people are required to wear gloves during the duration of the five-day tour and beyond.
The SA Rugby Union also said it had taken out insurance on the Webb Ellis Trophy to the value of about R570 000.
From the capital, the Bok-branded bus travelled to Joburg and Soweto. Tomorrow, the Boks will be in Durban, followed by stops in East London on Saturday, Port Elizabeth on Sunday and Cape Town on Monday.