South Africans scream, sing and dance as Springboks return

1 / 4
Springboks scrumhalf Faf de Klerk greets supporters upon the South African Rugby team’s arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. (AFP)
2 / 4
Fans await the arrival of captain of the South Africa Springbok rugby team, Siya Kolisis, portrait on poster, and his team from Japan at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
3 / 4
Springboks fly half Elton Jantjies signs a rugby jersey upon the South African Rugby team’s arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. (AFP)
4 / 4
Fans await the arrival of the South Africa Springbok rugby team at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. South Africa beat England in the Rugby World Cup final Saturday 32-12. (AP Photo)
Updated 05 November 2019

South Africans scream, sing and dance as Springboks return

  • Forward Pieter-Steph du Toit, voted World Rugby Player of the Year two days ago, and scrum-half Faf de Klerk were among the first players to arrive
  • Black and white, male and female, young, middle aged and old, low-income earners and the wealthy all descended on the airport east of Johannesburg to salute their heroes

JOHANNESBURG: Thousands of South Africans screamed with joy, danced and sang at OR Tambo airport near Johannesburg Tuesday as a first group of Springboks who won the Rugby World Cup returned home.
Forward Pieter-Steph du Toit, voted World Rugby Player of the Year two days ago, and scrum-half Faf de Klerk were among the first players to arrive.
The victorious squad, coaches and officials are scheduled to return between Tuesday and Wednesday as no airline could accommodate the entire group on one flight.
Captain Siya Kolisi and coach Rassie Erasmus are among a group expected to arrive in Johannesburg later Tuesday.
A carnival atmosphere enveloped the normally sedate international arrivals section of the airport as Du Toit, De Klerk and some teammates and coaches received deafening applause.
Black and white, male and female, young, middle aged and old, low-income earners and the wealthy all descended on the airport east of Johannesburg to salute their heroes.
Many wore replica green and gold shirts and waved national flags as they celebrated the rugby triumph which was all the sweeter after poor recent results by the national football and cricket teams.
The Springboks dominated and then crushed pre-match favorites England 32-12 in Japanese city Yokohama on Saturday to lift the World Cup a record-equalling third time.
Winning the four-yearly showcase of rugby so decisively has lifted the spirits of a nation mired in economic and social quagmires.
Although boasting the most developed economy in Africa, South Africa is struggling with stagnant growth, near 30-percent unemployment and widespread poverty and inequality.
Headlines about corruption in state institutions and violence against women and children also appear with alarming frequency in the media.
Rosharon Morgan, a 34-year-old from western Johannesburg, said she closed the family engineering business for the day in order to welcome the Springboks.
“I’m here because the Springboks are the pride of the nation,” she said.
“I was listening to the speeches of (captain) Siya Kolisi and (coach) Rassie Erasmus and they were along the lines of uniting us and giving us hope.
“Right now there is a lot of euphoria in the county, but what we need to do is turn that into tangible changes. The problem is that we are not working toward (racial) unity.
“There are still many issues that need to be addressed such as racial and economic inequalities. We cannot overlook them.”
Moemedi Mashiolane, 45, works in the security industry and took advantage of free train transport to join the celebrations.
“I came here because this is Nelson Mandela’s legacy — this is what he would have wanted,” he said.
“Rugby has united us. Where I come from rugby is a sport played by white people but today it has united us.
“We want white people to know that we want to be part of rugby and they must allow us to play the game.”
Mashiolane said he loved the speech Kolisi made about unity as it uplifted his spirits.
“He knows about our lives as black people and I hope politicians learn from that. They must not think we are stupid — we can see they are trying to divide us.”
What made the Springboks’ success special was it being achieved with a team reflecting both racial groups with nine whites and six blacks in the starting line-up.
The team was captained by forward Kolisi, who last year became the first black Test captain in South African history.
Formed in 1891, the Springboks fielded only whites for 90 years before fly-half Errol Tobias became the first black player to represent his country.
Just one black, winger Chester Williams, featured in the 1995 World Cup-winning and there two wingers, JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, in the side that conquered the world 12 years later.
Despite government pressure for the Springboks to select teams that better reflected a population that is 90 percent black, many coaches chose predominantly white teams.
Erasmus turned the tide after replacing embattled Allister Coetzee as coach last year, giving a string of black stars opportunities.
In Yokohama, there were six black starters: Kolisi, fellow forward Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira and Bongi Mbonambi, and backs Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi.
Kolbe was a candidate for the World Rugby Player of the Year award won by Du Toit and Mapimpi the second highest try scorer at the World Cup with six.


Saudi rally star’s Dakar hopes dashed by injury

Updated 15 December 2019

Saudi rally star’s Dakar hopes dashed by injury

  • Spinal fracture sidelines Issa Al-Dossari after brave third-place title finish

RIYADH: Saudi ED rally team captain Essa Al-Dossari has been forced out of next month’s Dakar International Rally after injuring his back in a lead-up event in the Kingdom.

The Saudi driver fractured a vertebrae when his car became airborne and landed heavily during the second stage of the Sharqiya Baja rally, the final round of the Saudi Desert Rally Championship, held in the Eastern Province.
Medical specialists told Al-Dossari the injury will require four months’ rest, effectively ruling him out of Dakar Rally starting on Jan. 5.
More than 300 international teams are due to compete in the 12-day rally to be held in Saudi Arabia, the first time the event will be staged in the Middle East.
Al-Dossari was in third place behind eventual winner Yazid Al-Rajhi and reigning Dakar champion Carlos Sainz when his car landed heavily, injuring both the Saudi driver and his French assistant Sebastien Delaunay.

Despite his injury, Essa Al-Dossari finished third place in the Sharqiyah Rally. (Twitter photo)

The Saudi ED captain insisted on completing the race to confirm his third placing in the championship rankings, but went to hospital immediately afterwards.
Al-Dossari’s third-place finish came despite his failure to compete in all the rounds. Several world champions led by Spain’s Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz and Frenchman Peter Hansel took part in the tournament.
Earlier this year Al-Dossari took the first Gulf position in the Abu Dhabi Desert Rally.
Before his injury he was completing preparations to join the largest rally event hosted by Saudi Arabia, competing in the Navara Pickup Class T1, prepared and equipped by the South African Red Line team.
Meanwhile, Saudi driver Ibrahim Al-Muhanna strengthened his Dakar rally claims by winning the Saudi Desert Rally Championship in the T4 truck category.
Backed by his crew, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abu Deeb, the Security Forces Officers Club team captain gained 150 championship points over five rounds held in Asir, Al-Qassim, AlUla-Neom, Riyadh and the Eastern Region without being subjected to violations or temporary penalties.
Al-Muhanna’s Saudi Desert Rally win adds to his Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar victories in recent years, and makes him the only driver to collect all Gulf championships.
The Security Forces Officers Club team will include rising navigator Raed Abu Deeb in its plans for the Dakar Rally, which will feature 45 specialized truck teams.
The rally will begin in Jeddah and end in Qiddiya, outside Riyadh, covering a distance of 7,800 km.