Injured World Cup winner Pollard misses Springbok celebrations

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Handre Pollard, fly-half in the Springboks Rugby World Cup-winning team, missed the start of a national celebratory tour Thursday as he is in hospital recovering from a fractured eye socket.

The 25-year-old playmaker sustained the injury in the final, which South Africa won 32-12 in Japan last Saturday with Pollard contributing 22 points from six penalties and two conversions.

A South Africa Rugby statement said he would be out of action for six weeks.

"This is not quite the trophy tour I had in mind," he told reporters. "I desperately wanted to go on the tour around the country and hold Bill (the William Webb Ellis Cup)."

Instead, Pollard is recovering in hospital from where he posted a picture on social media of himself with a badly swollen left eye socket and an oxygen tube attached to his nose.

He watched the victorious Springboks being feted Thursday in rugby hotbed Pretoria, Johannesburg and football stronghold Soweto on TV.

"The reception from the public was unbelievable. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine so many South Africans would turn up on a working day to greet the team."

The tour moves to Indian Ocean city Durban Friday, followed by East London (Saturday), Port Elizabeth (Sunday) and Cape Town (Monday).

Pollard announced this year that he is leaving the Pretoria-based Northern Bulls Super Rugby team after the World Cup to join French Top 14 outfit Montpellier.

Because of his injury, he could not comment on when he would be travelling to his new team in southern France.

Pollard was the leading points scorer at the Rugby World Cup with 69, 11 more than Owen Farrell, who captained England in the final.

Another Springbok injured in the final, lock Lood de Jager, will have surgery on a dislocated shoulder in Cape Town next week once the swelling subsides.

SA Rugby did not comment on hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who was sidelined by an injury during the first half.