Cape Town - Scores of rugby fans and a host of Springbok legends joined the celebration of rugby in South Africa this week on the 14th stop of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour.
The Webb Ellis Cup, rugby's most coveted prize, was on show across Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town where it stopped at rugby stadia, entertained hundreds of fans at the Springbok Experience, visited iconic Table Mountain and attended a Get Into Rugby Festival for local school children.
A proud rugby nation, South Africa is only too familiar with the iconic trophy, securing Rugby World Cup victories in 1995 and 2007. The presence of the Webb Ellis Cup not only brought back fond memories for many people across the nation but inspired the next generation of players.
This was evident when more than 100 local school children took the opportunity to learn from former Springboks Jean de Villiers and Breyton Paulse at a Get Into Rugby festival at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
In the presence of the Webb Ellis Cup and against spectacular Stellenbosch scenery, students from five schools across the area took part in rugby sessions and had a chance to hear first-hand what it was like to be part of a Rugby World Cup winning team.
Former Springbok captain De Villiers commented during the Get into Rugby session: "I was very fortunate to be part of the Rugby World Cup winning squad in 2007 and to have the Webb Ellis Cup back in Cape Town brings back many memories for me. The trophy is so special to South Africa and the joy it brings to people here is fantastic.
"Get Into Rugby is a massively important tool for growing the game across our country and to see children here having fun, being active and taking part is something we will continue to see across South Africa in the future.
"It's not just about finding the next Springbok, it's about using the skills you learn on the field to make a success of life and that's what I hope children take away from today's experiences."
Get Into Rugby, World Rugby's flagship programme to grow the game globally in partnership with member regions and unions, has been active in South Africa for four years. The country has the largest Get Into Rugby programme in the world and since it began, it has afforded more than 209 000 children the opportunity to try, play and stay in rugby.
Earlier in the week, hundreds of fans lined up to get a glimpse of the trophy at the Springbok Experience in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The interactive museum, which tells South Africa's story through the eyes of its most powerful sport, was a fitting location for the Trophy Tour and the opportunity to have a photo with rugby's greatest prize was one that supporters couldn't resist.
World Rugby CEO, Brett Gosper, said: "We have been delighted by the warm welcome the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour has received in South Africa and it is always humbling to see the emotional connection that South African fans have with the Webb Ellis Cup.
"Just as Rugby World Cup 1995 was a game-changer for South Africa, we are fully anticipating that Rugby World Cup 2019, to be held in Japan, will be a game-changer for rugby in Asia, taking the sport to a new audience and inspiring a new generation of rugby fans and players.
"With just over 200 days to go to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, preparations are on track for a very special and successful first Rugby World Cup in Asia and the anticipation of the world's third biggest sports event can be felt right across the globe.
"With tickets still available for a number of South Africa matches, I would encourage fans to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the magic of Japan 2019."
Following the South Africa leg of the 20-nation Trophy Tour, the Webb Ellis Cup will visit the USA and Canada, Brazil, Chile and Argentina among other destinations as excitement grows ahead of the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.