Port Elizabeth - Ever wondered which stadium crowd sings South Africa’s national anthem the best at Springbok Test matches?
Well, in captain Victor Matfield’s estimation, it’s the people of Port Elizabeth, and he hopes that the 46 000 fans at a likely sold-out Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium can be in full voice again on Saturday when the Boks take on Scotland in a one-off Test match at 5pm on Saturday.
Matfield will extend his record of being the most-capped Springbok player in Test rugby by earning his 113th cap on Saturday. So in the previous 112 times that he’s lined up to sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, the people of PE were tops.
“It’s going to be great. I remember my last game here in 2011 against the All Blacks, and I think it was the best anthem I’ve ever heard in my whole career. So it’s a great memory, and if we can get that on Saturday again, it would be just fantastic,” Matfield says. “It really stands out for me in my whole career, when everybody got behind the team and sang that anthem with a lot of heart and pride.”
The Bok supporters' singing seemed to inspire the players as they beat the All Blacks 18-5 on that August day, with Morné Steyn scoring all the Bok points with five penalties and a drop goal.
Matfield will lead a Springbok team with 13 changes in total to the match squad that beat Wales 31-30 in Nelspruit last week, but he has challenged his new-look side to grab their chance to impress coach Heyneke Meyer against Scotland.
Junior Bok captain and flyhalf Handré Pollard, who is just 20 years old, will make his Test debut for South Africa on Saturday, and there are four other players on the bench who could play for their country for the first time too if they come on to the field – prop Marcel van der Merwe, lock Stephan Lewies, flank Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff.
“It’s a great opportunity for those guys to get a chance. It’s nice, seeing that we’ve had a big squad for the last four weeks and even for the training camp in Durban. So they’ve been in the system for four weeks and now that they get their opportunity, they must show what they can do,” the 37-year-old Matfield said.
“So it’s not a young Springbok side that’s going out there on Saturday, but it’s the Springbok side. There is a responsibility on each and everyone going on to the field, and they have to go out and perform.”