Anthem butcher says 'it was beautiful'

Toulouse, France - The reggae singer the Springboks accused of butchering the anthem before the 20-13 Test match defeat to France said Saturday that he thought he had "sung beautifully".

Ras Dumisani, sporting dreadlocks tucked into a huge red, green and white Rastafarian cap, was adamant that his performance - which made large parts of the Toulouse crowd burst into laughter - had been a good one.

"No one told me they were upset with the singing," the Durban native said. "In fact, someone just came up to me and told me how beautifully I had sung."

The South African anthem was sung before France's stirring "Marseillaise" and the singer, backed by two drummers of his Afrikhaya Band, made a mess of the four-language homage to the Rainbow Nation.

At the anthem's conclusion, large parts of the crowd were left openly laughing and several Bok players looked over angrily as the singer made his muted departure from the field.

"I must convey that we are annoyed by the fact that the French disrespected our anthem," blasted South Africa coach Peter de Villiers.

"They didn't get someone who really knows the thing and show any respect for it. We expect people to show respect to the anthem of any other country."

But Dumisani was aghast that de Villiers and other Bok players were unhappy with his rendition.

"Everyone at the stadium told me I sang well, even after the match. The Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika has been my tune since a baby," he said. "How can I not know the words?

"There are four languages: Zulu, Sesontho, Afrikaans, English. It's just four bars, always saying the same thing," said Dumisani, now based in Paris where he currently records his music and from where he is about to embark on a tour.

"I am the biggest reggae man in South Africa and the Springboks are my team.

"Everyone has their own tastes and you can't always account for that but most people find my music so beautiful."

Speaking after the match on Friday, Bok vice-captain Victor Matfield said Dumisani's rendition of the anthem had taken some of the wind out of the Springbok sails just moments before a kick-off.

"It's almost like receiving a jersey - every week's a special moment," Matfield said of lining up to sing the anthem.

"Every time you go out on the field and sing the national anthem, it's very important for us and that's something that fires you up because it really fires you up because you know you're playing for your country.

"It was a joke out there. The guys couldn't sing along to it and even the crowd were starting to laugh. It was very disappointing." - Sapa-AFP

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