South Africans scream, sing and dance as Springboks return

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Springboks scrumhalf Faf de Klerk greets supporters upon the South African Rugby team’s arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. (AFP)
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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)
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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)
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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.


England pace aces create ‘headache’ for Root ahead of Pakistan Tests

Updated 03 August 2020

England pace aces create ‘headache’ for Root ahead of Pakistan Tests

  • England have the luxury of six specialist pacemen in their 14-man squad for this week’s first Test against Pakistan 
  • Hosts rotated their quicks during last month’s 2-1 series win over the West Indies which forms a program of six Tests in seven weeks

LONDON: England have the luxury of six specialist pacemen in their 14-man squad for this week’s first Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford — a welcome “headache” for captain Joe Root.
The skipper can call on veteran new-ball partners James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the express pace of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood and the impressive Sam Curran and Chris Woakes.
The hosts rotated their quicks during last month’s 2-1 series win over the West Indies which, together with the upcoming campaign against Pakistan, forms a program of six Tests in seven weeks.
That is a particularly tough schedule for fast bowlers in a season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
England’s management has argued no paceman can play all six Tests, with the restrictions imposed by maintaining a bio-secure “bubble” requiring several options to be immediately at hand.
But it is an issue they will need to handle with care given they have now lost the opener in eight of their past 10 multi-match Test series, which for all their resilience could prove costly if it happens against Pakistan.
Broad revealed on Sunday he felt “so low” after being omitted from the West Indies opener that he considered retiring.
The recalled Broad responded with 16 wickets at a miserly average of under 11 in the next two matches as he joined long-standing England new-ball colleague Anderson as one of a select group of seven bowlers to have taken 500 Test wickets.
At 34, and bowling a generally fuller length which makes his ability to move the ball late off the seam an even more challenging proposition, Broad is in arguably the best form of his career.
Anderson, four years older and a swing bowler who thrives in home conditions, is closing in on 600 Test wickets, with England’s all-time leading bowler clearly not done yet.


World Cup winners Archer and Wood provide England with the option of genuine 90-miles-per-hour-plus pace, with speed through the air an asset even when pitch and overhead conditions favor the batsmen.
Then there is Curran, whose left-arm angle adds variety to an otherwise all right-arm attack. The Surrey bowler has won every Test he has played in at home.
Woakes, who took 5-50 in the West Indies decider, has a better home average than either Broad or Anderson, with his 81 Test wickets in England coming at just 22 apiece.
Woakes is now more inclined to deploy a sharp bouncer, which makes it harder for batsmen to routinely push forward in the hope of blunting his movement.
That still leaves the pace bowling of star all-rounder Ben Stokes who, as he showed before guiding England to an astounding one-wicket win with a brilliant century during last year’s Headingley Test against Australia, can also drag his side back into matches by sheer force of personality with the ball.
But the West Indies finale may serve as a model for England.
Stokes was unfit to bowl, although he featured as a batsman, and that meant England deployed Anderson, Broad, Archer and Woakes in an attack featuring spinner Dom Bess after omitting batsman Zak Crawley.
England could now drop Bess or still play four specialist quicks even if Stokes is fit to bowl for the first Test, which starts at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
There were times when Archer, who clearly thrives on responsibility, was relegated to the role of first and second change during the West Indies finale and appeared to bowl accordingly.
Archer was making his return after missing the second Test due to a breach of coronavirus protocols.
It may be, however, that even Anderson and Broad will have to accept they cannot always be the “main men” from now on.
England often appear so obsessed with the Ashes that the opponent in front of them becomes relegated to a warm-up act for their next confrontation with Australia.
But this season’s compressed schedule may have inadvertently given England a template for how to regain the urn Down Under in 2021/22.
“With the talent that’s waiting in the wings it’s an exciting place to be and long may those headaches continue,” said Root.