Stick: Boks can build hope, show unity amid violence

Mzwandile Stick says the Springboks want to try to build hope while spreading positive energy amid outbreaks of violence and looting around the country.

The South Africa A team is set to face the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town on Wednesday night. Coached by the Springbok coaches, the side includes a plethora of World Cup regulars, like captain Lukhanyo Am, Faf de Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe and Willie le Roux.

However, Wednesday’s game will be taking place amid an outbreak of violence and looting of malls and small, privately owned businesses in the country, mainly centered around Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

During Tuesday’s pre-game online media conference, Stick was asked whether the match would feel insignificant given the events unfolding around the country.

The assistant coach, however, chose to emphasise how the Springboks can once again play a role in spreading hope and putting smiles on faces, as they did during the 2019 World Cup.

Back then, the Springboks realised how it was important that they have a voice and become socially aware of their influence and responsibilities when, during a World Cup warm-up match, Makazole Mapimpi took the time after scoring a sequence of tries to reveal a wrist strapping that read ‘Nene RIP’.

It was a meaningful gesture in dedication to Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was brutally raped and murdered in Cape Town in 2019. The tragedy sparked an emotional movement calling for change in the way women and children are treated in this country.

In the weeks to follow, the Springboks continued to champion the catchphrase ‘Stronger Together’ throughout the World Cup, striving to play for the people back in South Africa and to unite a country in distress.

“We are actually living in a sad time currently from what we can see on the news and social media,” Stick explained.

“One of the main reasons for us as Springboks is to give hope and add smiles to faces. We will never forget when we won the World Cup, people of all colours – pink, black, brown and yellow – we were only speaking one language: rugby. Everyone was happy. That’s the kind of hope we want to build.

“If our job is to get an opportunity to unite country then that is what we will aim for. We have an opportunity to play the Lions and show South Africa once we work together and spread positive energy, anything is possible and can achieve what we set our minds to as a nation.”

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis