PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the Springboks had lifted citizens’ spirits in the country and congratulated them on their World Cup victory.Ramphosa was addressing the team and fans outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday morning, where the Springboks departed for the first leg of their nationwide tour.Dancing and chants of “Siya” as the open-top bus arrived at the Union Buildings, the team was met by huge crowds as they disembarked with the Web Ellis Cup in hand.South Africa became the first team to win the Web Ellis Cup on three different continents when they beat England in the final on Saturday.Ramaphosa said they had changed the mood in the country.“We thank them for the impact this victory has had in our country. In many ways, it has helped to unite our country.”Ramaphosa also joked that Siya Kolisi and the rest of the Springboks would be elected to Cabinet if national elections were held now.The president said that the popularity of the team would have seen them win an election.“If we were about to hold an election, I have no doubt that the entire rugby team would be in Cabinet, they’d be in Parliament and they would have won the election, so I’m glad our election is over and Siya Kolisi could have been the president.”The bus has now departed and will make its way through Pretoria before making its way to Johannesburg and Soweto later this afternoon.GALLERY: World champion Boks kick off victory tour in Gauteng
Meanwhile, the Springboks will be at Parliament on Monday as part of their nationwide victory tour.
House chairperson Cedric Frolick has encouraged Members of Parliament to attend when the team stops for a brief photocall even though it is a day when MPs are usually away in their constituencies.
“They’ll be at Parliament for about 20 minutes on the steps of the National Assembly where they will be taking photographs in front of the statue of Madiba… you’ll recall the important role that he played in the 1995 World Cup, so it’s very appropriate for them to come around to Parliament.”
Frolick said the team was expected at around noon.
WATCH: World champion Boks tour Gauteng
Additional reporting by Gaye Davis.