In Summary
  • Springboks’ victory against England was greeted with joy across South Africa

SOWETO

Khanyisile Makumbana knew she couldn't miss the Springboks' victorious parade through Soweto after their Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan.

The 16-year-old plays rugby in the famous black township on the edge of Johannesburg and was overcome with emotion on Thursday as she watched a hugely symbolic trip through a neighbourhood where the rugby team was once reviled.

"Seeing them in the eyes, it brought tears in my eyes," says Makumbana.

The Springboks' 32-12 final victory against England was greeted with joy across South Africa, where rugby was once the preserve of the white minority population.

Not so long ago black people, oppressed by the apartheid system, despised the Springboks, a team which for decades excluded non-whites.

"The rugby team came to symbolise the arrogance of Afrikaner power," says Bongani Dlamini, a retired teacher from Soweto.

"Many Sowetans are proud to wear Springbok shirts today -- 30 years ago anyone foolish enough to wear one would have put their life at risk."

On Thursday a sea of green and gold greeted the country's returning heros as they began their tour of the nation in what would have once been considered enemy territory.

That enmity has slowly changed since the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 as the first black president.

The sight of Mandela wearing a Bok shirt and handing South Africa captain Francois Pienaar the Webb Ellis Trophy after the 1995 World Cup final was iconic and immense in its own way.

But events in Yokohama last week took it to another level as the trophy was handed to Siya Kolisi, the first black player ever to captain South Africa in a test.

#STRONGTOGETHER

This team, forged by Kolisi on the field and coach Rassie Erasmus off it, feels like a team that truly represents the nation, prompting the #StrongerTogether motto and hashtag for the Boks in Japan.

That togetherness was reflected by the presence of some white fans on the streets of Soweto.

Peter Schultz wanted to bring his two children to witness "a new dawning".

"The team is finally representing more the nation. It is a fantastic transition," he said.

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