150,000 turn out for Wallabies
More than 150,000 people lined the streets of Sydney Wednesday to welcome home Australia's World Cup winning rugby team.
Wallaby skipper John Eales unashamedly declared the tickertape parade a victory for the Australian people and their love of sport. Two weeks after Australia's world champion netballers were feted by 40,000 people and five months after the world cup winning cricketers drew over 100,000, it was rugby's turn.
Eales was given the keys to the city by Lord Mayor Frank Sartor. "It's the best kick along rugby could get in this country," Eales said. "The great thing about Australia is we have choices. The people are able to support whatever they want to. People don't only support one sport or one football code, they'll get out there and support the whole of Australia."
He was just as glowing on the huge turnout. "We knew we had a lot of support so to come back and have a tickertape parade like this, where the people can come out and welcome us, makes us feel very special," he said."What happens in this hour will be with us for the rest of our lives."
Vice captain George Gregan, nursing the William Webb Ellis trophy in the last car along with Eales, said the full realisation of being world champion was slowly sinking in. "Year after year you know you're in the top three or four teams, but to win the World Cup makes it official," he said. "This is a wonderful experience."
There will be further parades in Melbourne on Thursday, Brisbane on Friday and Canberra next Wednesday.
After the parade centre Tim Horan announced that he was to donate almost 25,000 Australian dollars in prizemoney to charity.
Horan won the money from sponsor Guinness for being the first player to score a try quicker than it takes to pour a pint of the black stuff. In Australia's opening Cup match against Romania in Belfast last month, Horan took just 92 seconds to give Australia the lead.
He handed over a cheque for 20,000 dollars to The Royal Women's Hospital Foundation in Brisbane, where his three children were all born at least six weeks premature. The other 4,426 dollars was given to another Queensland charity.