Item 1058 - Address at South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) Award's Evening, October 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1058


Address at South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) Award's Evening, October 2001


  • October 2001 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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SARFU Awards Evening, October 2001

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  • English

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President of SARFU, Mr Silas Nkununu
Members of SARFU
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

And particularly the players nominated for awards
As well as the members of our national rugby sides:

It is a great honour to be with you this evening and to share in this important event where the performances and achievements of individual players during the past season are being recognised and celebrated.

In the collective memory of this country rugby will always hold a place of pride for the role it played in nation-building during those first years of our new democracy.

The manner in which Francois Pienaar's Springbok team, affectionately owned by the Sowetan as the AmaBokho-Bokho, rallied the entire country behind it in its successful campaign for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, will always stand out in the annals of nation-building in this country.

That memorable day in June 1995, when South Africans from all backgrounds and persuasions took to the streets to celebrate a national achievement commonly embraced, must certainly serve as an inspiration to the current and future generations of players.

You, the rugby administrators and players, must not allow that beacon event to fade from your and the public's memory. Like few other occasions or events it demonstrated the social power of sport. As we have so often said: sport reaches people in ways and to an extent that politics and politicians never can. It is up to you, administrators and players, to ensure that the powerful effect you have, is harnessed positively: to unite rather than divide, to build human solidarity rather than enmity.

Rugby can be proud of the progress it has made in this regard. It was once a sport associated mainly with one sector of our society. Black lovers and followers of the game once openly supported the opposition when visiting sides were touring. To become a Springbok was for long not only denied players of colour, but they in fact mostly rejected the thought of being associated with that emblem.

Today we see in our provincial sides ever increasing numbers of Black players holding their own and excelling. Our national sides are steadily becoming more representative. And the support for the sport is reaching way beyond its traditional sectors.

What is happening in fact, is that South Africa is rediscovering its history through the promotion of national unity. What our years of engineered division did, was to obscure from the mainstream public awareness the fact that rugby was once a thriving and vital sport in many Black communities. The history of rugby in Black communities stretches as far back as that of rugby in the White communities.

Our coming together as a nation freed us to pool those different histories to the benefit of the sport nationally.

All involved in the sport, whether as players, referees or administrators, must take credit for that development. As it is a team sport on the field, the social developments in the code are the result of a team effort.

We are here tonight, though, to celebrate the fact that the team achievement is made up through the efforts of dedicated individuals. It is the striving for excellence on the part of committed individual sportspersons that underlies the feats of excellence on the part of teams. It is a positive and constructive individuality that contributes to collective success.

The players nominated in the various categories represent the leadership capacity of our nation. They all are young men with a will to succeed and the readiness to sacrifice time and energy in pursuit of success. They are role models to the youth of our nation.

We congratulate them on their achievements as individuals and as members of teams. No matter who the eventual recipient of the award in each category turns out to be, you are all winners.

Special words of congratulations, though, to those winners in the respective categories. May your success spur you on to even greater heights.

We are here also to take leave of our two national sides and to wish them well on their tours.

Allow us in the first place to congratulate the players on being selected for the high honour of representing their country. We all share in your pride, because we all look forward with equal eagerness to your performances on behalf of us all.

We know that you will do our country proud, both on and off the field. We look forward to the victories you will achieve, but even more so to the manner in which you will conduct yourself as sportsmen on the field and ambassadors off the field.

To the players, coaches and management: travel well and best wishes.

In conclusion: we wish the rugby fraternity of our country well. May you go from strength to strength as a potent force for uniting our people, inspiring our youth and contributing to the physical and moral health of our nation.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 26/02/09 by Razia Saleh




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