- Blacks, whites scream with joy as ‘Springboks’ back home after World Cup win
- 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 to arrive.
- Nearly four hours later, the star attractions, captain Siya Kolisi and coach Rassie Erasmus, touched down to a frenzied reception.
Thousands of South Africans screamed with joy, danced and sang at OR Tambo airport near Johannesburg on Tuesday as the 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 to arrive.
Nearly four hours later, the star attractions, captain Siya Kolisi and coach Rassie Erasmus, touched down to a frenzied reception.
The victorious squad, coaches and officials were scheduled to arrive between Tuesday and Wednesday as no airline could accommodate the entire group on one flight.
"We are privileged to do what we are doing ... we know that can give a little bit of hope to the people," Kolisi told a packed media conference. "We won because we wanted it a lot. The people here gave us another reason to want it even harder. We had our people with us and it was really special for us."
Erasmus, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Tuesday, said: "What we want to keep on lasting is what we're seeing here at the airport (racial unity).
"We have to focus on making sure that everybody gets equal chances of playing, everybody gets good nutrition and everybody gets a fair chance.
"There are so many things that we have to fix, we can't just focus on the Springboks. There are so many bigger things that we have to fix."
A carnival atmosphere enveloped the normally sedate international arrivals section of the airport as every Springbok 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.