Johannesburg (AFP)

The South African press hailed on Sunday the "source of inspiration" and unity that represents the victory of the Springboks in Rugby World Cup, at a time when the country is plagued by racial tensions, unemployment and violence.

Siya Kolisi, the first black captain of the South African rugby team at a World Cup, and "his Boks are teaching us lessons in unity", said the Sunday Times in his editorial.

"There was something beautiful in the symbol" of Saturday's final in Japan, the newspaper continued.

"Trained by an Afrikaner (descendant of white settlers), Rassie Erasmus, and led by Siya Kolisi, from a township (...), the Springboks scored two great tests, scored by Makazole and Cheslin Kolbe", two players blacks, the weekly stressed.

Since the fall of the racist regime in 1994, "the Springbok emblem has rightly been the focus of heated debate given their old ties to apartheid," the Sunday Independent said.

For decades, only whites, who were less than 10 percent of the South African population, could participate in the national rugby team.

But thanks to Nelson Mandela, the first black president (1994-1999), who used rugby as a means of national reconciliation, the Springbok emblem "has survived and now has the potential to grow to become a rallying point for all South Africans "after Saturday's win, the Sunday Independent said.

"The image of Siya Kolisi (...) brandishing the trophy is as emblematic" as that of Nelson Mandela "congratulating François Pienaar in 1995", when the Springboks, led by their white captain, had won the cup at home, a year after the official end of the apartheid regime.

Saturday's victory "reminds South Africans what the rainbow nation can do when everyone works together," the Sunday Independent said. The Springboks "are a source of inspiration" for their country, in full economic and social turbulence against a backdrop of permanent racial tension.

"It is South Africa's responsibility" to take the Boks as an example, put aside insignificant feuds and put the country first, "the Sunday Independent said.

"The wise words" of Siya Kolisi, who stressed, after the final whistle, that "if we all pull in the same direction, we can achieve something", "apply greatly to the economy", has also estimated the Sunday Times.

In one, the newspaper launched "Siyabonga", thanks in Zulu, putting in relief "Siya", the first name of the captain.

© 2019 AFP