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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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South Africans celebrated in their thousands, drinking beers, dancing and singing in Johannesburg on Saturday as the country celebrate a hat-trick of Rugby World Cup titles.

The 32-12 triumph in Japan was beyond the wildest dreams of most Springboks supporters, who had dreamt of a victory, but not by such a convincing margin.

Sports clubs were packed despite the 11:00 am (0900 GMT) kick-off and those who turned up were not disappointed as South Africa stunned pre-match favourites England 32-12 in Yokohama.

Traditionally a sport followed by whites, rugby has grown in significance among the 90 percent black population, whose favourite sport is football.

Captain Siya Kolisi last year became the first black Test skipper of the Springboks and six of the starting line-up in Yokohama were black.

Only one black player, Chester Williams, was in the 1995 World Cup-winning team and two, JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, were part of the Springboks team that triumphed again 12 years later.

In Japan on Saturday, black wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe scored the two late tries that put the final beyond the reach of pre-match favourites England.

At the Gold Reef City theme park close to central Johannesburg, a multi-racial crowd of young, middle-aged and old screamed with excitement every time the Springboks gained possession.

Among the crowd was businessman Preggie Subrayen, who believes the victory will bear the kind of fruits the country desperately needs to take it to new heights.

“This win will definitely boost the morale of people. Hopefully there will be a spin-off like after the 1995 win, when South Africans came together and united,” the 59-year-old said.

“I believe that this will change the economy for the better,” he said, of a country grappling with an economy deep in debt and near-30 percent unemployment.

His views were echoed by Jappi Nkoko, who was wearing a green replica Springbok jersey and carrying a national flag. He said he hoped the World Cup triumph would boost investment.

“If you recall, after the 1995 win our economy boomed, so (hopefully) it will happen again,” he said.

“Now that we have won, people will start supporting each other.”

In the 1995 win, South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela famously handed the trophy to the team’s white captain Francois Pienaar.

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