South Africa declares public holiday after ‘momentous’ Rugby World Cup win

Springboks clinch record fourth Rugby World Cup over New Zealand

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 31 October 2023 07:51 GMT
South Africa players brought to tears after winning World Cup against New Zealand

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa declared 15 December as a public holiday to celebrate the country’s Rugby World Cup victory.

Mr Ramaphosa said the December date was chosen for the holiday as most students in their last year of high school are currently sitting for their final examinations. Their final term will be ending in December.

The Springboks clinched a record fourth Rugby World Cup win after scoring 12-11 against old rivals New Zealand on 28 October.

In a country where rugby stirs strong emotions, ecstatic South African supporters had called for a holiday to celebrate the victory of their rugby heroes.

“This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition and celebration of our rugby players and their achievements,” Mr Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.

“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.”

The president called the victory a “momentous achievement” and a sign of hope at a time when the country is struggling with the world’s highest unemployment rate, which stands at 42 per cent, and other economic issues like high poverty.

Siya Kolisi of South Africa celebrates with the The Webb Ellis Cup following his side's victory in the Rugby World Cup France 2023

He said he wanted the unity of the national team to become a greater fixture of South African society.

“We need more of this, and not just in the domain of sporting achievement,” said Mr Ramaphosa, who faces a general election next year.

“I am confident that through the actions we are taking now, we will overcome the challenges we face and build a society that works for all of its people,” he said after reflecting on his government’s achievements.

“We have much more to do. But like the Springboks, we have the determination and commitment to overcome any challenge.”

The president also said he had a conversation with their national cricket team captain Temba Bavuma, who is in India for the ICC Cricket World Cup.

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada celebrates after taking the wicket of England's Ben Stokes (R) during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match between England and South Africa

“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,” he said.

“I also told him that I intend to travel to Mumbai in India to watch them play in the finals,” he added.

The Proteas have the best net run rate in the tournament so far after clinching three consecutive wins. Their victory total is five.

While the team was defeated in a stunning upset in their third match against the Netherlands, their other victories have secured them a place in the semifinals of the cricket tournament.

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