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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sport
Nick Purewal

Rugby World Cup: Siya Kolisi revels in South Africa's incredible journey to record-breaking win

A stunned Siya Kolisi insisted he had no right to go from township boy to double Rugby World Cup-winning captain.

The Springboks skipper lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time as South Africa edged out New Zealand 12-11 at the Stade de France.

The Boks became the first team to win the World Cup four times, claiming their second triumph in France, to add to their 2007 title.

Kolisi added the 2023 trophy to the Springboks’ 2019 triumph in Japan, matching Richie McCaw claiming 2011 and 2015 glory with New Zealand.

Reflecting on his journey from poverty to superstardom, Kolisi explained: “We shouldn’t be where we are today.

“There's no way we should be where we are today. I had my own reasons to play rugby, look after my family, give back to my community.

“What brings us together is our country. I can’t explain it to you in words, when we come together in a common goal, nothing can stop us as a country.

“We’re not saying we’re going to win all the time, but we promise you we’ll give it everything. I wouldn’t change the script.

“I’ve known [South Africa head coach] Jacques Nienaber since I was 18 years old, Rassie Erasmus gave me my first contract at 17.

“Eben Etzebeth is always serious, but he was smiling and laughing before the game, just about our journey, where we’ve come from to be here for the World Cup final.

“I would do this over and over again.”

Nienaber will now join Leinster, having helped South Africa win back-to-back World Cup titles.

Kolisi paid tribute to the coach he has known his whole adult life, with a sincere thank you.

“Jacques has cared about us as people, he took it further, far deeper than just a rugby game,” said Kolisi.

Turning directly to Nienaber in the post-match press conference, with the Webb Ellis Cup sat between them, Kolisi continued: “It’s been a huge honour for me and a privilege, Jacques.

“I appreciate you, we love you as a team, not as a coach but as a person.

“You’ve taken it to another level. You talk to me as a person, father, husband, son.

“It goes such a long way for a player. Thank you, we honour you as a team. I hope you’re proud of us.”

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