Siya Kolisi with the World Cup. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

'Rassie said great things are never achieved in ideal conditions'

Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi said the people of South Africa have driven them to glory again.

SIYA KOLISI SKIPPED into the press conference room, singing as he cradled the Webb Ellis Cup in his arms.

Out on the pitch at Stade de France, many of his team-mates were still gathered around loved ones, revelling in the feeling of glory as the rain came down in Paris.

Having played a key role with his 63-minute shift in the World Cup final win over New Zealand, Kolisi’s next job was to try and summarise what it all means to South Africa.

He had already shown his class at the final whistle, sprinting all the way to the touchline to find Cheslin Kolbe, who had spent the closing minutes of the game in agony after his yellow card left it as a 14 v 14 contest. Kolbe was a picture of utter relief as Kolisi ran to embrace him.

It seems to be typical of Kolisi – thinking of others. He is now arguably the greatest World Cup captain in history having joined Richie McCaw in lifting the trophy for the second time last night. But the 32-year-old was only interested in highlighting what the trophy means to the people of South Africa.

“There is not a lot of things going right in our country and we have the privilege – not the pressure – to be able to do what we love and inspire people in life, not just sportspeople,” said Kolisi, who grew up in the township of Zwide.

“Where I come from, I couldn’t dream I could be here today. We come from different walks of life. I had my own goals and ambitions. I want to look after my family, I want to give back to my community. What brings us together is our country.

“You need to come to South Africa to understand. We have a lot of problems but it’s a beautiful country.

“When we come together nothing can stop us, not just in sport but also in life.”

siya-kolisi-celebrates-with-his-wife-rachel-and-family Kolisi with family. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The Springboks’ journey to this fourth World Cup title was not smooth.

They were beaten by Ireland in the pool stages, then had to edge past hosts France in the quarter-finals on a one-point margin. In the semi-finals, they survived a huge scare against England, again winning by a single point.

And last night, they had to cling on as the 14-man All Blacks found momentum in the second half. Despite losing their only real hooker to injury just three minutes into the game, the Boks found a way to get across the line on another one-point margin.

It has possibly been the toughest path to World Cup success any team has faced, but that’s the way the Boks like it. When the going gets tougher and tougher, they dig deeper and deeper.

“Coach Rassie [Erasmus] said great things are never achieved in ideal conditions, and this wasn’t ideal conditions for us as a group,” said Kolisi.

“Playing the home team in their home country was one of the hardest things to do and obviously when we played the last game against England, which was tight, we had to fight and today as well, no different. 

“The motivation was everything from home and our families. The coaches created an environment for us where we can be with our families no matter where we are, it feels like we are home. There are 15 or 20 kids running round the hotel. It’s one of the greatest things they could have done for us.

“People also from South Africa, some of our friends, they’ve used their savings to come and watch us.

“For me not to give my 100% on the field would be cheating all those people and that’s what the coaches always remind us of. The motivations for us, we don’t have to look far.”

rassie-erasmus-celebrates-with-siya-kolisi-after-the-game Kolisi with Rassie Erasmus. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Kolisi paid glowing tribute to the Springboks’ coaching staff, including main man Erasmus, Irish assistant coach Felix Jones, and also head coach Jacques Nienaber, who will now leave for Leinster.

Having already paid tribute to him last week, Kolisi went a step further last night by turning to Nienaber alongside him and expressing his gratitude.

“Jacques, honestly, it’s been a huge honour for me and a huge privilege, and your wife and the kids… I appreciate you,” said Kolisi.

“We love you as a team, not as a coach, but as a person. You’ve taken it to another level. The way you speak to us – it’s not ‘make a big hit, make a tackle’, you talk to me as a person, as a father, a husband, as a son, it goes such a long way so thank you.

“We honour you as a team. All the best. They will be lucky to have you wherever you go.”

And with that, it was off to rejoin his team-mates and cherish the special moments.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel