Johannesburg - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is hoping to put a smile on former president Nelson Mandela’s face with a victory over Argentina on Saturday.
The Boks face the South Americans in their opening match of this year’s Rugby Championship on a day when the country celebrates the life of Mandela at the FNB Stadium. Bafana Bafana will also be in action, against Burkina Faso, with a music concert rounding off the day later this evening. The Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day will see this country’s two biggest sports team in action on the same field, hours apart.
“The magnitude of our game against Argentina is big, but when you add Madiba’s name to it, it gets massive. Playing for your country is always special, but honouring the former president and realising what he has done for this country … when you realise that’s on the line, it’s huge,” said De Villiers.
The Bok skipper says he remembers the day Mandela was released from prison like it was yesterday.
“I grew up in Paarl and the Victor Verster prison wasn’t too far away from our house. And that’s where everything happened, the first images I saw of the great man. It was a massive day for South Africa. From the moment he walked out of there he started making a difference in this country, he pulled us together and he used sport to do it.
“(Today) we celebrate a fantastic man, someone who’s given so much for his country and sport … hopefully we can win and bring a smile to his face.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer
said: “I feel fortunate to be part of such a prestigious day and great occasion … so I want us to go out there and prove we are one of the best teams in the world.”
The Boks will wear the United4Mandela logo on their jerseys on Saturday, with the proceeds of the day going towards building the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, the second paediatric hospital in southern Africa. - Saturday Argus