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Memories of Madiba

  • 23 Jul 2013

Former and current Springbok players, and an ex-Bok coach, pay tribute to Nelson Mandela in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine.

The Springboks would not be known as the Springboks today were it not for Mandela, writes editor Simon Borchardt.

It was Mandela who prevented the emblem from being scrapped by the National Sports Council, which wanted all South African teams to adopt the king protea.

‘There is a real possibility that if we review our decision and accept the Springbok for rugby as our symbol, we will unite our country as never before,’ said Mandela, a quote we would use on our ‘Save our Bok’ cover in December 2008.

Click here to read the digital edition

At a rally in Ezakheni in KwaZulu-Natal on 16 June 1995, the president put on a Springbok cap midway through his speech and told the crowd that the Springbok team playing France in the semi-finals the next day represented the whole nation and not just the white minority. Then on 24 June, the day of the World Cup final, he famously came on to the Ellis Park field wearing one of Francois Pienaar’s No 6 jerseys, which not only gave the hosts a massive boost but ensured the vast majority of South Africans would celebrate the Springboks’ victory a few hours later.

Mandela continued to support the team in the years ahead, wearing a Bok blazer for the June 2006 cover of SA Rugby magazine, which celebrated 100 years of the Bok emblem, and appearing regularly at matches before his health prevented him from doing so.

This month’s cover, which was designed by Justin Evans, pays tribute to Madiba by reflecting the many players he inspired – some of whom we spoke to for our cover feature  – and magic moments he helped to make happen.

Also in the new issue:

– Backing the unique Willie le Roux may yield a long-term reward that exceeds the short-term risk

JJ Engelbrecht has surprised many with his rapid rise and become the South African poster boy for the benefits of excellent coaching

– The Springboks deserve praise for the manner in which they won June’s quadrangular series

– Scrumhalf Aaron Smith lost his mojo during Super Rugby but got it back with the All Blacks in June

– Pumas legend Felipe Contepomi will end his 15-year Test career after the 2013 Rugby Championship

Kurtley Beale benefited from a stint in rehab but admits his journey is far from over

– A brilliant Test series saved what had until then been a disappointing British & Irish Lions tour of Australia

– Former Sharks coach John Plumtree speaks out about the manner of his dismissal

– The appointment of Brendan Venter as the Sharks’ director of rugby was a strong statement of intent from CEO John Smit

– The Lions were hit hard by their 2012 relegation and will continue to struggle in 2014 regardless of their Super Rugby status

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