The Springboks defeated the All Blacks in a tense encounter at the Stade de France on Saturday, 28 October 2023. The victory meant that South Africa lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy for the second consecutive tournament and a record fourth time in total. This also made them the most successful team at the Rugby World Cups.
In the lead-up to the final, after the Springboks defeated tournament hosts France, President Ramaphosa said he would consider declaring a public holiday should South Africa triumph at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
As the final whistle blew on Saturday night confirming the Springboks as champions of the world, many South Africans called for the president to declare a public holiday in celebration.
On Monday, the president declared that 15 December 2023 would be a public holiday. They emphasised that the proclamation of a public holiday is not merely a day off work or school; it is a symbol of hope, celebration, and unity.
In celebration of the Springboks’ momentous achievement and the achievements of all our other sportsmen and women – and as a tribute to the resolve of our united nation – I am declaring Friday the 15th of December 2023 as a public holiday.
Why The Public Holiday Is Two Months After The Victory
Many have questioned why a public holiday will be celebrated almost two months after the historic event that led to its declaration. The main reason for this is the 2023 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams.
More than 900,000 Grade 12 learners around South Africa began their final school examinations on Monday. The examination period will continue over the next seven weeks and is set to conclude on Wednesday, 6 December 2023.
Ramaphosa says he wants the country to embark on a period of celebration culminating in a celebratory holiday after our matriculants have finished their exams and the Proteas have done the country proud at the Cricket World Cup.
I know that many of us want to have a holiday now to celebrate. But we should all agree that we should give our matriculants time to focus on their exams and celebrate afterwards.
Some South Africans quickly pointed out that the country would already be observing a public holiday on 15 December 2023. This is as the country observes the Day of Reconciliation on 16 December 2023.
Due to the Day of Reconciliation falling on a weekend, South Africans would have observed the public holiday on the closest weekday which is 15 December 2023.
Regardless of this on 15 December 2023, South Africans across the nation will enjoy a well-deserved day off which they will do with a sense of pride in the performance of their athletes.