Hope, tears and fears -- Can South Africa's victorious homecoming make a lasting difference this time?

The distance between the little town of Despatch and the Zwide township in the Eastern Cape is just under 20 kilometres, but they may as well be worlds apart.

Despatch is a largely conservative town made up of middle-class white, Afrikaans-speaking South Africans. Zwide, on the other hand, is a black township, of which the majority of the residents are isiXhosa who live below the breadline.

But these two rugby-mad areas were united in celebration when two of their favourite sons masterminded the Springboks' Rugby World Cup final win over England on Saturday.

Coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi come from vastly different backgrounds, with the one growing up with a lot of privilege during Apartheid, and the other not knowing where his next meal would come from.

That inequality still exists in the Rainbow Nation 29 years after its first democratic elections, but it was also the driving force that the coach and his skipper used to fire their charges towards rugby's holy grail, the Webb Ellis Cup.

Black and white, rich and poor, descended on O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg on Tuesday to give Erasmus, Kolisi, the other members of the Springbok squad and, of course, that little gold trophy a warm welcome.

Before the Boks arrived, people from different backgrounds were line dancing to sounds of the late Brenda Fassie's Vulindlela, a Xhosa/Zulu word which means "make way". In the context of Fassie's song it means "make way, you gossiping neighbours because my child is getting married today".

But on Tuesday it could have meant "make way, the champions of the world are coming through".

Indeed, it was a struggle for Erasmus, Kolisi and the Webb Ellis Cup to make their way through the masses, with the police and security officials trying to keep the excited crowd, who wanted get a glimpse of the trophy, at bay.

Kolisi, though, obliged by lifting the skinny gold trophy above his head just like he did at Yokohama Stadium on Saturday.

"Siya! Siya! Siya!" reverberated through the International Arrivals terminal.

The tears flowed again, just like they did over the weekend. just like the many beers consumed in posh bars and township taverns alike.

"We definitely wanted it a lot, England also wanted it. But the people outside carried us. It gave us a reason to fight even harder," Kolisi said after arriving at the press conference with the World Cup.

"We knew what was going on back at home. Coach reminded us that we are privileged to do what we are doing and that we can give a little hope to the people. Seeing all the videos of the people singing and dancing in malls and taverns ... we knew it was much more than just for our personal gain. It was for the country."

A World Cup win won't cure South Africa's rampant unemployment rate, the spate of gender-based violence or the fact that the majority of the kids in this country still go to bed without anything to eat. But it has lifted the mood and given the country hope.

The hope comes from an isiXhosa kid, who lifted the World Cup despite not knowing where his next meal was going to come from 20 years earlier. The hope stems from what can happen when a diverse group of individuals come together and work towards a common goal.

"We lost to the All Blacks in our opening pool game following a nervous build-up, because we felt some pressure. So in the week after that we sat down and asked ourselves 'what is pressure really?' How can we be nervous going into a big Test match, when there are so many other things in life to worry about," Erasmus said on Monday.

"People in New Zealand don't have the type of pressure people in South Africa are facing. It's different in England. It's different in France. When we play, we shouldn't play under pressure, but with the freedom to give hope.

"We wanted to win it for South Africa. You can see what's happening outside ... that absolutely drove us. The halftime chat in the final wasn't about the gameplan, it was about the people back home watching the game on TV."

Erasmus is stepping down as coach of the Boks and resuming his duties as director of rugby. But he intends to continue on this path of hope and find other Kolisis in the townships of South Africa.

South Africans felt the same euphoria in 1995 and 2007. But the effects of that little shot of happiness in the arm wore off. The racial tension was back. Rugby again divided like it did during Apartheid, when most black people supported the touring teams.

But this feels different. This Boks team is different. The image of the man who lifted the cup is different; he was a black man leading a team of South Africans from different cultures. This is a team all South Africans can identify with.

"If I have one wish from the World Cup ... if I think about 1995 and 2007, what we want to see lasting is what we see here at the airport, different races and religions, people with so many differences coming together," said Erasmus, who also celebrated his birthday on Tuesday.

"It is nice to have it on my birthday, but if I could have one other wish on my birthday it is to really use this victory as a springboard to ensure that we don't lose some of the other things we had 2007 and 1995 again, and really use it this time to make sure that all the things that we missed out [on] previously that we don't miss it this time.'

"We have to focus on making sure that everybody gets equal chances of playing, everybody gets good nutrition and everybody gets a fair chance," Erasmus added. "We can't just focus on the Springboks. If we only focus on the Boks, we will only win every 12 years. There are so many other things that can help the Springboks win consistently.

"There are so many bigger things that we have to fix. Let Siya and the boys enjoy today, but let's keep it going."