South Africa's prop Tendai Mtawarira (left) and South Africa's flanker Siya Kolisi celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal match between Wales and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan, October 27 2019. Picture: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
South Africa's prop Tendai Mtawarira (left) and South Africa's flanker Siya Kolisi celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal match between Wales and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan, October 27 2019. Picture: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Yokohama — The last time the Springboks played in a Rugby World Cup final their current captain, Siya Kolisi, watched it in a tavern.

It might not have been intoxicating viewing because John Smit’s team bruised their way to a 15-6 win over England in that final in Paris‚ but Kolisi could not be further removed.

“I was watching in a tavern because I didn’t have a TV at home‚” the Bok skipper said on Sunday about the time he was still residing in the Eastern Cape.

Kolisi was speaking after his team reached the final for the first time since 2007. The Springboks beat Wales 19-16 on Sunday to reach their third final‚ where they will perhaps fittingly meet England. The occasion 12 years ago left quite a mark on the current captain.

“I remember what it did for us. I’d never seen people coming together over sport‚” said Kolisi‚ who spoke about the significance of reaching the final.

“It means a lot to be in the team. We’ve worked really hard‚ all of us. I know the coach for a while. I was 18 years old when he gave me my first contract.

"He just made it clear that the Springboks are the most important thing. In the past most of us tried to build ourselves through our social media accounts. He just got us back to earth. He had to pull us together and get our buy-in‚” said Kolisi.

Before the semifinal Kolisi received a call from President Cyril Ramaphosa to wish him and the team well. The captain was chuffed.

“It was awesome to get a phone call from the president‚” he said. “It was special for him to take time out to wish us luck. Also all the support we have been getting from SA. We have been receiving the messages. We are giving our best.

“We expected to make a few mistakes. I’m really glad we could handle the pressure to the end‚” he said about the tense match.

Coach Rassie Erasmus also looked a relieved man after the match. He was just thankful he doesn’t have to do laundry on Monday.

“Every time last year since I started coaching the Boks when we lost a match I changed my clothing. Last year I had to change quite a lot of clothing.

“We lost quite a lot and this year I only had to change it once‚” he said about the defeat to the All Blacks in the Springboks’ opening match at this World Cup.

“I’m hoping I can wear this at the end of the final‚” Erasmus said, pointing at his well-worn shirt. This is my lucky shirt so far.”

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