Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says the whole African continent is behind the Boks as they gear up to face their biggest rivals, the All Blacks, in what should be a blockbuster Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France on Saturday.
The Boks were desperately lucky to escape with a breathless 16-15 win over England in their semifinal clash over the past weekend – and they will have to be a lot better if they want to topple the in-form All Blacks like they did in their first World Cup win in South Africa back in 1995.
Kolisi admitted that the team were massively inspired by the amazing support they have enjoyed over the tournament and would be relying on it once again to see them through the final.
“Yes, definitely, we have been feeling it. We have been seeing the support in our hotel. One of our sponsors gave us a screen so we can see the support and what is happening back at home. We know the whole continent is behind us,” said Kolisi after the win.
“Some of the videos where people talk about how they feel and what it is doing for them. I don’t think there is any country in the world where people who don’t have a TV go to the mall and sit together to watch us play, people from different walks of life.
“That is exactly what is fuelling the team. It is special because we know we don’t only represent South Africa but the continent. If we do become successful, the whole of Africa wins, so we do see the support and we appreciate it.”
Springboks vs England match
Kolisi was brutally honest about the team’s semifinal performance, but claimed it was the fightback that impressed him and the result was all that matters.
“England are a world-class team, completely different to what they were a year ago. They had an amazing game plan which we took a long time to adapt to.
“These things happen. The thing I take out of this game is the fact that we were able to dig deep and fight to get that victory.
“We are so grateful that we can be in the position to defend the cup again. A lot of teams wouldn’t be able to get out of that and get a win like that. It doesn’t matter how ugly it is. South Africa won, that is all we needed,” he said.
This will be the third time that the Boks will meet the All Blacks this season with the teams locked level at one-one, after New Zealand triumphed 35-20 in Auckland in the Rugby Championship, while the Boks picked up a record 35-7 win at Twickenham in their final game before the World Cup.