The Springboks gave back to an enthusiastic and welcoming Kagoshima community on Wednesday, with a number of school and government visits on a rest day from training.
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It was a welcome break for the players after two days in soaring temperatures and sapping humidity that had many trying to recall an as intense 48 hours of training.
“It has been fantastic to see how excited the Japanese kids are to see us,” said Francois Louw.
“It feels like they’ve adopted our nation. It’s very, very warm but let’s not complain about that – it’s a fantastic place, it’s fantastic to be here for the World Cup and it’s fantastic to have Japanese support.”
Louw, Francois Steyn and Tendai Mtawarira attended the Nakagori Elementary School where they were met in the school hall by cheering children, staff and parents.
The players assisted in breaking open a giant ball, suspended above the school hall, stuffed with confetti and a good luck message. The players demonstrated some passing skills and were asked to demonstrate some feats of strength, with the young scholars hanging from their biceps to general delight.
“It feels to me as if they are really supporting us and really wishing us everything of the best in the Rugby World Cup,” said Steyn.
“It’s great to see how well-mannered are the Japanese kids. I want to do well at the World Cup for them as well – for the support they are showing us.”
Assistant coach Matt Proudfoot, Schalk Brits, Kwagga Smith, Bongi Mbomambi, Jesse Kriel and Cobus Reinach gave a coaching masterclass to high school pupils while the ‘little and large’ of the touring party – RG Snyman and Herschel Jantjies – visited the prefecture governor’s office to present gifts, including an ostrich egg carved with a Springbok badge and a message to the local government.
After a welcome respite from training, the team returns to the field on Thursday with an open session followed by a signing session for the public.