Rugby World Cup 2011

Boks blown away by fans

2011-09-01 21:23
John Smit (Gallo Images)





Johannesburg - Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and captain John Smit admitted to being overwhelmed by the fans' farewell to the Bok team on Thursday.

Gallery: All the pics from the Bok send-off

Click to BUY your very own Springbok RWC jersey

More than 36 000 supporters crammed into Sandton on a sunny Johannesburg afternoon to say goodbye to the 30-man squad and management before they departed to New Zealand on Thursday evening.

The Springboks spent 90 minutes taking the short walk from Nelson Mandela Square to the Sandton Gautrain Station, before travelling with schoolchildren, prize winners and VIP guests to OR Tambo International Airport.

Tens of thousands of fans lined the route and crammed into Sandton in unprecedented scenes for a team departure from South Africa.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said the squad has been stunned by the reception and the weight of expectation had intensified accordingly.

"I was always nervous of having a public send-off as we have not won anything to celebrate," said De Villiers. "But when you see how South Africa is rallying behind the Springboks you cannot but be humbled and grateful.

"This will be one of the most memorable days in the lives of all our squad and we can't help but take incredible energy from it.”

John Smit said he and the players were blown away by the reception.

"I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the players to all the people and celebrities who came out to say goodbye to us,” said Smit. “We’re just sorry that there may have been people who might not have been able to see the players because of the size of the crowd.

“But this was the culmination to an amazing few weeks - starting with the week we had in Port Elizabeth. Wherever we have gone people have been calling out, shaking hands, blowing their car horns and we’ve taken incredible energy from that.

“This squad places a lot of expectation on itself but it’s obvious that South Africa doesn’t just hope that we win this World Cup - they need us to win it.”

The Springboks departed at 20h55 on QF 64 and arrive in New Zealand at one minute to midnight on Friday night (New Zealand time).

The Boks begin their Rugby World Cup campaign against Wales in Wellington on September 11.

* Can the Springboks win the World Cup? Click HERE for the latest tournament odds on BET.CO.ZA
 

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
49 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
 
/Sport
Teams

Pool A

 
 
 
 

Pool B

 
 
 
 

Pool C

 
 
 
 

Pool D

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tank Lanning

Lessons learnt from RWC 2011

2011-10-26 16:45

A few vital life lessons from Tank Lanning's recent trip to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup quarter and semi-finals. Read More

 
Rugby World Cup Wallpapers

Download your favourite RWC wallpaper here

 
Weather

Auckland

Monday

Sprinkles late. Partly cloudy. Mild.

Low
High

13°C
21°C

Current Conditions
 
Vote

Taking into account where it will be held, the likely player retirements and new coaches in charge, which team looks best-placed to mount a challenge to the All Blacks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England?

 
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.