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Friday Dec 6, 2013

The Springboks and Nelson Mandela - RIP Madiba

The Springboks and Nelson Mandela - RIP Madiba

Rugby leaders from around the world have paid tribute to former President Nelson Mandela, who passed away in Johannesburg aged 95. It was in 1995 that he played a large role in uniting a divided South Africa around the Rugby World Cup.

In 1990 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released from prison after having spent 27 years in captivity for his efforts in changing the way that the white ruled country was run. Just four years later, aged 75, he was elected President following a democratic election in a rapidly changing country.

A year later, with South Africa having been awarded the rights to host the first ever Rugby World Cup that the Springboks would compete in, Mandela played his part in uniting the new Rainbow Nation behind a sports team that traditionally favoured only white players. One Team, One Country.

His role, from before the tournament to the victorious final against the All Blacks, has become a thing of legend, and his relationship with then captain Francois Pienaar something quite unique.

“Francois, thank you very much for what you have done for our country,” Mandela said to victorious Pienaar as he stood holding the Webb Ellis trophy at a packed Ellis Park.

“No, Mr. President. Thank you for what you have done for our country,” Pienaar replied.

Current Springbok captain Jean De Villiers spoke of the impact he has had on the country.

“My lasting memory of Madiba is that of a person who had enormous ability to bring people together. His presence at a Test Match just lifted the crowd and energised the team – it is actually hard to describe.

“Of course, as a sportsman I am so grateful for him for what he did for our country. He inspired South Africans, who for so long were very divided, to peacefully build a united Rainbow Nation.”

South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins echoed the thoughts of all South Africans.

“His name will rank among that of the greatest liberators and humanitarians for as long as mankind walks the earth. It was our privilege to have lived in this country during his lifetime.”

NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew said the sport had lost ‘a champion of our game’. “New Zealand Rugby has enormous respect for Mr Mandela and his incredible contribution to his country and people.

“We have lost a champion for our game, a leader whose inspiration ensured Rugby World Cup in 1995 was a remarkable time for our sport and whose influence on sport has been far-reaching.

“His presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar after South Africa overcame the All Blacks in the Final is a moment that few New Zealanders will ever forget,” he said.

Mandela was a boxer, but his belief in the power of sport led to him becoming somewhat of a mascot for both the South African rugby and cricket teams. Below is a short tribute, with words from the great man himself. Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba.


  • 4lc4tr4z
    7:41 AM 10/12/2013

    Well, you know, there are a lot of "saint" in the calendar that burned or killed people, some others "liked" very young kids, others were lords as kind as Joffrey Baratheon... So, I'm pretty sure Nelson Mandela would be a better saint than most of them.

  • katman
    7:37 PM 09/12/2013

    Thank you, Eddie. Well said.

  • eddie-g
    3:00 PM 09/12/2013

    Thank you, RD, for posting this. It's hard to find words, but the relationship of Madiba with the Springboks was a defining image of the man and what he did for our country. @45678 - I would recommend The State v Nelson Mandela by Joel Joffe to update your knowledge. At the point Mandela was convicted, the ANC had neither targeted nor killed a single civilian. Not one. They had perpetrated acts of sabotage (minor bombings of power stations, deliberately designed to avoid civilian casualties), and Mandela was convicted for that as well as on three other charges connected to belonging to banned organisations. That was the sum total of the State's evidence, it was embarrassingly thin, but it was all that was needed under the laws at the time. You also say Mandela did some "bad stuff" - let's be clear what bad stuff he did was utterly venial to the system he was fighting against, and the tactics his adversaries used. It's true Mandela denied he should be regarded as saintly, but I say that the term "saint" has little meaning if it can't be applied to him.

  • 4lc4tr4z
    9:29 AM 09/12/2013

    "... Aaahhh Jonah ! What about that bad diarrhea ?" :-) God bless Madiba.

  • highwaychile
    3:12 AM 09/12/2013

    I think the legacy of Mandela, amid all of the great things he accomplished, should be the incredible power of forgiveness. I find it utterly amazing. As an American I cannot recall a leader here who brought such opposing sides together. And still, I find some of my South African friends complaining about Mandela. I just shake my head.

  • danknapp
    9:55 PM 07/12/2013

    Great point, well made 45678. Every great person has their flaws. It's the flaws which make them human and give the rest of us hope.

  • 45678
    2:06 PM 07/12/2013

    Nothing to forgive, but that's kind of the point! NM did some bad stuff in his younger years, but it's the ability to move on not seek revenge, compassion etc that defined him. I think it is important to highlight the negative, because this process of reconciliation made him who he was

  • ditosila
    9:33 AM 07/12/2013

    One of the Greitest person in the history

  • elcardana
    2:54 AM 07/12/2013

    An inspiration of all the men in the world

  • jeri
    10:19 PM 06/12/2013

    We, and generations after will continue to read about him, what he has done and judge him accordingly. But now I hope you'll forgive most of us when we express sadness on the death of a bloke whom, frankly, we do like quite a bit.

  • 45678
    5:08 PM 06/12/2013

    NM was an inspirational leader and demonstrated the power of forgiveness and humility to all, but I think you are glossing over fact when you say "27 years in captivity for his efforts in changing the way that the white ruled country was run" he was imprisoned because he set off bombs and killed people. He says as much in his autobiography. It may now be for legitimate reasons with the benefit if 50 years hindsight, but it's a bit crass to wash over killing people as "his efforts" He is a hugely important figure of 20th century history, an inspiration in the face if adversary, and a figure head in the fight against racism on both sides, but it's easy to forget and rewrite history to suit out modern liberal values, whether for good or bad

  • upthelowend
    1:08 PM 06/12/2013

    Wow... That hit me much harder than I thought it would. What a truly amazing man.


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