President Cyril Ramaphosa with Springboks Coach Rassie Erasmus and Captain Siya Kolisi at the Union Buildings. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Pretoria   President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday revealed that he was very nervous during the Springboks final match against England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"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," a jubilant Ramaphosa told a crowd, including the victorious Springbok team, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"This was the first time that we have had tries in a final. We must applaud our team for doing that," he added.

Ramaphosa was presented with the coveted Webb Ellis Cup by Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi as the Springboks kicked off their nationwide trophy tour on Thursday.

"We thank them for the impact that this victory has had in our country. In many ways, you have helped to unite our country. Through this victory, our country tasted victory, and also you lifted the spirits of many people in our country. Thank you very much for having done so," said Ramaphosa.

Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Kolisi paid tribute to Erasmus, and the multitudes of fans across the world who rallied behind the South African team at the weekend.

“We are very happy and proud to be here with the trophy today. It’s been a lot of hard work especially for our coaching staff. Coach Rassie, thank you so much for pushing our boundaries and making us believe that we can achieve whatever we desire, as long as we work hard,” said Kolisi to cheering from the jubilant crowds.

“The most important thing we learnt from you, is that the most important thing is the country - the Springbok badge in front of our chests, not our own ambitions. That all falls into place once we work hard together. I would like to thank the rest of the coaching staff as well.”

Crowds of ecstatic Springboks fans lined the Union Buildings' Government Avenue on Thursday morning, hours before the Springboks arrived in Pretoria.

Kolisi and his charges were given a rapturous welcome by fans at the Union Buildings. Several government ministers and officials of the SA Rugby Union were present.

Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

A Springbok fan, only identified as Fiona, told the African News Agency the national rugby team had made South Africa proud.

“We are so proud of you guys, and we are very grateful that you went out there and brought the trophy home. We are very grateful, and we are a proud nation,” said Fiona.

Several streets outside the Union Buildings were lined with cheering crowds waving the South African flag.

In Stanza Bopape Street, Zimbabwean national Abel Muchemwa said the Springboks have become an African symbol of unity.

“In my view, Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup. I can’t express how proud I felt when Siya Kolisi lifted that cup with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Tendai Mtawarira, all the way from Zimbabwe, was very pivotal in that win. The Springboks have once again united us as a nation, and a continent,” said Muchemwa.

The Springboks parade makes its way through the streets of Tshwane. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

The winning team will also visit Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on their five-day tour to show off the Webb Ellis trophy, clinched on Saturday when they defeated England in the final.

The trophy tour kicked off in Gauteng on Thursday with the Bok-branded bus travelling through parts of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Soweto.

On Friday, the Boks will be in Durban, followed by stops in East London (Saturday 9 November), Port Elizabeth (Sunday 10 November) and Cape Town (Monday 11 November).

African News Agency (ANA)