THE heroic Springboks were welcomed back on to home soil yesterday by a variety of fans, reflecting the popularity of the world champions across the country. Fans clapped and whistled as the team, clad in their tracksuits, made their way to a podium erected at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Among the supporters was Britney de Freitas, who travelled from Boksburg with her mother and sisters to get an autograph for their dad.
"We came to get them to sign my dad's book," she said, adding that Springbok captain John Smit did his Grade 1 at the same school she attended.
Others came from Pretoria and Lenasia to catch a glimpse of their heroes. They sang Pieter Koen's Eina Eina as they waited.
Another supporter was Alex Dube, who left work early at the East Rand Mall to beat the traffic in order to see his sporting idols.
President Jacob Zuma said: "They made us proud... those countries that come to play them think twice before any game. I can't remember a Boks team that beat New Zealand in succession, proving once more that indeed we are the best," he said as the crowd roared in approval.
Before speaking, Zuma was presented with a team blazer. He removed his own jacket and put it on.
Smit also presented him with a number three jersey.
"It's been a phenomenal couple of weeks, we really appreciate the support we are getting," Smit said.
The national rugby team clinched its third Tri-Nations title after beating New Zealand 32-29 in Hamilton on Saturday. - Sapa