World Cup glory awaits Siya Kolisi and his Springboks
The most transformed Bok World Cup team went into battle against Wales, edging them out 19-16 in a tense and tight semi-final in Yokohama yesterday to book their place in Saturday’s final against England.
It will be a repeat of the 2007 final showdown when Jake White’s John Smit-led side beat England in the Paris final.
Kolisi could also join the 1995 Bok captain Francois Pienaar to make history lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.
With seven black players in the starting team for the semi-final, his side is the most representative to have run out at a World Cup, and the captain said that the Boks were playing for everyone in South Africa.
“We’ve worked hard to get here, and it’s awesome to see how everything has come together. Hopefully we can now go all the way.”
Kolisi said he had watched the 2007 team beat England in a tavern because he didn’t have a TV set of his own at the time.
“I saw what that victory did for the country. I just want to thank everyone for their support from back in South Africa; it’s been special and I urge everyone to keep supporting us.”
Coach Rassie Erasmus, who only took charge of the side from the beginning of the last season, said the Boks were now “halfway” to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.
“It was a nerve-racking game against Wales, especially there at the end,” said the Bok boss of a tight semi-final that was only decided in the dying minutes.
“I’m proud that we could beat Wales, who are a class outfit.
“We’re in the final and we have a chance. We’re halfway there. I’d love for us to win it.”
Three seasons ago, the Boks - under the coaching of Allister Coetzee - lost 57-0 to New Zealand in Auckland, a low point in their history. But under Erasmus, the Boks have turned things around, and they’ll go into the final against Eddie Jones’s team having lost just once this year - against New Zealand in their opening pool game six weeks ago.
England, winners against the All Blacks in the first semi-final, have already widely been installed as the favourites. Former World Cup-winning flank Schalk Burger also felt Jones’s team would start as the favourites on Saturday.
“The Springboks will be the underdogs and England the favourites, but that will suit the Boks,” said Burger in the SuperSport studio yesterday.@jacq_west