‘Warrior’ Springboks parade World Cup through streets of Soweto

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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi holds up the Web Ellis trophy as the World Cup winning team parades through the streets of Soweto. (AFP)
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Captain Siya Kolisi holds up the Webb Ellis trophy as rugby fans surround the bus carrying the South African Springbok rugby players during a victory parade in Soweto. (AP Photo)
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The Springboks parade through the streets of Johannesburg with the Web Ellis trophy. (AFP)
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Springbok supporters cheer as the South African Rugby team parade through the streets of Pretoria. (AFP)
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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, left, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Web Ellis trophy, in Pretoria. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

‘Warrior’ Springboks parade World Cup through streets of Soweto

  • The Springboks’ 32-12 victory against England in Japan has been greeted with joy in South Africa, where rugby was once the preserve of the white minority population
  • Siya Kolisi, the Springboks’ first black Test captain, held the Webb Ellis trophy aloft aboard an open-top bus emblazoned with Rugby World Cup Champions

SOWETO, South Africa: World Cup winners South Africa began their homecoming tour on Thursday with a victory parade steeped in symbolism through the streets of Soweto, the township near Johannesburg where they were once reviled.
The Springboks’ 32-12 victory against England in Japan has been greeted with joy in South Africa, where rugby was once the preserve of the white minority population.
Thousands of South Africans came out to cheer the national team that three decades ago was viewed as a symbol of white aggression as black nationalists fought the brutality of the apartheid regime.
Siya Kolisi, the Springboks’ first black Test captain, held the Webb Ellis trophy aloft aboard an open-top bus emblazoned with “Rugby World Cup Champions.”
“Sport is the real tool that can bring all people together,” Vusi Cele told AFP, watching his “heroes” parade before him.
“We have all races here today,” the out-of-work 42-year-old added.
“If we can support each other through sport, nothing will stand in front of us. We are together as one for ever and ever.”
Another Soweto resident, Elizabeth, aged 80, said: “Today we are one. There is no hatred. I pray it will stay like that.”
Soweto is the home of two of south Africa’s biggest football clubs — (Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates). It was also the former home of Nelson Mandela.
Earlier the victorious Springboks — bar one notable exception — had been to Pretoria where President Cyril Ramaphosa joked he was less popular than Kolisi.
After welcoming the team to Union Buildings, Ramaphosa thanked “our warriors” on behalf of a grateful nation and reflected on the huge popularity of Kolisi.
“They’ve been at war, they won and they brought the World Cup back to South Africa where it belongs,” the president said.
“They put us on the world map. We thank them for the impact that this victory has had in our country ... you’ve lifted the spirit in many people in our country.
“It’s good we don’t have an election, I would have to compete with Siya Kolisi ... (he) could have been the president.”
The one man missing from the first day of the parade was Handre Pollard, the fly-half who contributed 22 of South Africa’s 32 points in last Saturday’s final in Yokohama.
Pollard had to watch the celebrations from his hospital bed where he is being treated for a fractured eye socket sustained in the win over England.
The 25-year-old posted a picture on social media of himself with a badly swollen left eye socket and an oxygen tube attached to his nose.
“The reception from the public was unbelievable. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine so many South Africans would turn up on a working day to greet the team.”
After Soweto, the Springboks’ homecoming tour will take in Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, with the final leg in Cape Town on Monday.


Tennis champion Rafael Nadal not sure about 2020 US Open

Updated 04 June 2020

Tennis champion Rafael Nadal not sure about 2020 US Open

  • ‘If you (ask) me today, I will say, ‘No’’
  • Tennis, like most sports, has been on hold since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak

If it weren’t for a pandemic-caused postponement, the French Open would have been in Week 2 now, and Rafael Nadal might still have been in contention for a 20th Grand Slam title. Instead, he’s home in Spain, practicing lightly — and wondering along with everyone else in tennis whether the next Grand Slam tournament, the US Open, will be held.
“If you (ask) me today, I will say, ‘No,’” Nadal said with a shake of his head during a video conference call with The Associated Press and other wire services Thursday.
“In a couple of months? I don’t know. Hopefully, ‘Yes,’” he continued. “But we need to wait probably until we have more clear information about how the virus evolves and how the situation is going to be in New York in a couple of months. Because, of course, New York has been one of the places that have been very strongly hit by the virus. So, let’s see.”
Nadal thinks there are two key requirements for the US Open to happen — and for tennis to resume anywhere: assurances about being protected from the coronavirus and having everyone be able to fly internationally.
“We can’t come back until the situation is completely safe enough in terms of (health),” he said, “and fair enough in terms of all the players from every single (country) can travel to the tournaments under safe circumstances to compete.”
Tennis, like most sports, has been on hold since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The ATP and WTA tours are suspended at least until late July. The French Open’s start was pushed back from May until September. Wimbledon was canceled for the first time in 75 years.
A decision about the US Open is expected within weeks; the tournament’s main draw is scheduled to begin in New York on Aug. 31.
The US Tennis Association’s chief executive for pro tennis, Stacey Allaster, told said on Saturday that contingency plans include providing charter flights from around the world for players and requiring proof of negative virus tests before travel.
“I really believe we need to be patient, be responsible,” Nadal said, “and we need to (be) calm and do the things the right way.”
Nadal, who turned 34 on Wednesday, said he didn’t touch a racket for more than two months before recently resuming training in a less-intense way than normal and “not testing my body.”
“I am going very slow, step by step, not playing every single day and not practicing much,” he said.
Usually at this time of year, he is exerting himself on the red clay of Roland Garros, where he has won a record 12 of his 19 major championships.
He’s neither optimistic nor pessimistic right now about whether the French Open can be played later in 2020.
“I miss playing tennis. I miss playing the tournament that I love the most,” Nadal said. “But at the same time, my mind is not thinking about that. My mind is focused on trying to recover the normal life. The first thing we have to do is recover the normal.”