South African hero misses out on WC celebrations after devastating blow

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

World Cup final man of the match Handre Pollard has missed out on the wild celebrations in South Africa after fracturing his eye-socket against England.

South Africa's stunning victory at the Rugby World Cup prompted a swathe of tributes across a country that has been knee-deep in unemployment and crime.

The sight of Siya Kolisi, the first black player to captain the Springboks at a World Cup let alone lift the Webb Ellis trophy, provided an iconic image that human rights leaders and the government would like to exploit over the coming months and years.

Celebrations have continued as the team toured Pretoria, Johannesburg and Soweto on Thursday, but the World Cup leading point scorer and the man-of-the-match in the final, Pollard, was unable to join the team.

Handre Pollard of South Africa and his wife Marise Malherbe celebrate following his team's victory against England in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Instead, Pollard was in hospital after surgery on his eye-socket.

Pollard posted on Instagram: “This is not quite the trophy tour I had in mind.”

“I desperately wanted to on the tour around the country and hold Bill [the William Webb Ellis Cup].”

Handre Pollard's Instagram story. (@HandrePollard)

A South Africa Rugby statement said Pollard would be out for six weeks following the surgery.

South Africa’s World Cup tour will be heading to Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Significance of Kolisi lifting trophy

"What a fantastic achievement Siya Kolisi, (coach) Rassie Erasmus, and all the players and staff," said Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a key mover along with Nelson Mandela of the end of apartheid in the early 1990s.

"You have achieved much more than winning a Rugby World Cup.

"You have restored a self-doubting nation's belief. When we believe in ourselves we can achieve our dreams. Our father, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, is smiling from the heavens today."

The significance of Kolisi captaining the team has not been lost.

South Africa were banned from the first two editions of the World Cup in 1987 and 1991 because of their apartheid system of government.