Zuma welcomes Tri-Nations champions

Monday, September 14, 2009

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has welcomed the 2009 Tri-Nations champions, the Springboks, at the OR Tambo International Airport this afternoon.

Hundreds of excited fans dressed in green and gold rugby jerseys blew vuvuzelas at the entrance of the airport to welcome home the victorious Springbok Rugby Team.

Shortly after receiving a Springbok jacket from the South African Rugby Union President, Oregan Hoskens, President Zuma congratulated the team for the victorious 32-29 win against New Zealand on Saturday.

He said he was proud of the Boks, adding that they were "a special team".

"I must say we feel very proud as a country to welcome our heroes. We thought it was important to welcome them. They are a very special team to us," said the President.

Zuma said he could not remember a team that had beaten New Zealand in succession. "It proves we are the best."

He said he was confident that the Springboks in the next Rugby World Cup will defend their 2007 title. "I am certain that we will defend it successfully," he said, adding that those in the rugby world were scared of the men in green and gold.

The President said he was certain that a lot of people were glued to their TV screens on Saturday to watch the Springboks' road to victory.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers thanked the crowd for coming to welcome them, adding that their support made them the best team. "The energy that you give us, make us the best," he said.

Springbok fans, Wiesie and Daan Rabie traveled from Virginia in the Free State to the airport to welcome the Springboks. "We are here to welcome them, as far as we are concerned they are the best team in the world and we are very proud of them."

The Springboks finished with five wins out of six matches and 21 points on the Tri-Nations log, which put them well clear of Australia and New Zealand.

Fourie du Preez and Jean de Villiers scored tries for the Springboks. Morne Steyn landed three penalties and two conversions, while Francois Steyn kicked three long-range penalties.

Sitiveni Sivivatu and Richie McCaw scored tries for the All Blacks, and Daniel Carter kicked five penalties and two conversions.

The Boks have won three out of three matches against the All Blacks this season - their first clean sweep over the arch-rivals since 1949. The Springboks went into the Test with a substantial lead in the competition.