President Cyril Ramaphosa has kept his promise and declared December 15, 2023, a public holiday to celebrate the Springboks victory.
“We declare this to be a day of hope, a day of celebration and unity. Our sports men and women have shown us what is possible,” said Ramaphosa.
Springboks secured a victory in the World Cup final match against New Zealand on Saturday.
During his address on Monday evening, Ramaphosa pushed the holiday to December to avoid disturbing the matric exams, and to also include the Proteas in the celebrations.
“I know that many of us want us to have a holiday now to celebrate. But we should all agree that we should give our matriculants time to focus on their exams and celebrate afterwards,” said Ramaphosa.
The Springboks return to South Africa on Tuesday, and will be received by Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings later this week as they embark on their tour across the country.
‘Moment of national recognition’
“On Saturday night, South Africans watched with pride and joy as our national rugby team, the Springboks, become the world champions for the fourth time since the advent of democracy in our country,” said Ramaphosa.
“As we all watched their progress towards the championship, we marvelled at their resilience and determination to overcome some of the best teams in the rugby world. At moments when their cause seemed lost, they fought back and they emerged victorious – much to our delight. This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition and celebration of our rugby players and their achievements.”
The Springboks hold a record for having won the Rugby World Cup more than any other nation.
Ramaphosa attended the match, which took place at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris.
He further called on South Africans to rally behind the Proteas, who are currently playing in the Cricket World Cup. Ramaphosa said he would also travel to Mumbai in India to watch the Proteas play in the final.
“We should also applaud our cricket team who have been performing well in the Cricket World Cup. I spoke to the Proteas captain Temba Bavuma and encouraged them to remain focused and told him that the entire nation supports and stands behind them. I also told him that I intend to travel to Mumbai in India to watch them play in the finals,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa on unity
“As we confront the many severe challenges in our country, we draw hope and encouragement from the determination and the performance the Springboks and the Proteas have displayed.”
“The victory by the Springboks and the performance of the Proteas follows the victory of Banyana Banyana in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and their progress to the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” said Ramaphosa.
“Our spirits were similarly lifted by the achievements of our national squad at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin in June. The determination and resilience of our teams have given credence to Madiba’s words that sports unites the nation. In their achievements, they have revealed much about the unity of the people of the country they represent. As a people, we have shown before what is possible when we are united, when we are determined, when we try hard and when we refuse to give up.”