The Mayol stadium in Toulon vibrated on Thursday morning for the training open to the public of the South African rugby team, welcomed by more than 8,000 spectators a few days before its match against Tonga, Sunday at 9 p.m. in Marseille, decisive for qualification for the quarter-finals.
Among the supporters present in the sunny stands of Mayol to cheer the Springboks, there were more than 4,000 schoolchildren, college students and high school students from Var. “I’m so happy to be here, it’s a change from college. Plus there’s a lot of atmosphere, it’s cool,” Noah, 13, a 4th grade student at Les Eucalyptus college in Ollioules, told AFP.
“I hope I will manage to get my jersey signed by players, notably (Cheslin) Kolbe and (Faf) De Klerk, they are my favorites,” he added. Kolbe, a former RCT winger, was the most acclaimed when he entered the pitch, in front of two other ex-Varois, Duane Vermeulen and Eben Etzebeth, who were also warmly applauded.
“When the teacher told us we were going to come, I was really happy because I play rugby and I’m a real fan. It's much more impressive to see them in real life, it makes me really want to become like them. I can’t wait to tell this to my friends,” said Alexis, nine years old and a resident of the Zunino 1 school in La Garde.
The South African world champions had already organized public training on September 14, which welcomed some 7,000 spectators.
The Springboks took advantage of this last Var crowd before heading to Marseille on Saturday, where they will play their last match of the group stage the next day against Tonga. If they win, they will then have a few days of rest before a possible reunion with the France team on Sunday October 15 in the quarter-final.