As the world mourns and celebrates the life of Nelson Mandela, SANZAR has paid tribute to one of the most inspirational leaders of our time.
Mandela passed away peacefully at his Johannesburg home on Thursday night, age 95. SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said, “Madiba exerted a profoundly positive impact upon the world, but especially within his home country of South Africa where he famously championed sport as a vehicle of inspiration and social change.
“The way in which he galvanised the nation during the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph of 1995 is an indelible moment in history and an iconic example of Madiba’s tremendous influence and ability to unite.
“Madiba was – and will continue to be – an inspiration to all through the courageous legacy he leaves behind. He will be sadly missed not only by the rugby family, but by the world as a whole.”
South African Rugby Union President, Mr Oregan Hoskins said, “All our lives are poorer today at the extinguishing of the great beacon of light and hope that led the way for our country through the transition to democracy.
“We have been steeling ourselves for this day for some time but, now it has arrived, the sadness is no less. Madiba had a place in all our hearts and his passing is a personal blow to us all.
“Mr Mandela was also instrumental in retaining the Springbok as the emblem for our national team at a time when a chorus of voiced advocated a change of the symbol. It was an act of reconciliation and generosity of spirit which no one could have expected.
“The South African Rugby Union also sincerely appreciated the many times he inspired the Springboks to many great heights on the playing field. However, Mr Mandela inspired the entire South African nation with his kindness, generosity and ability not only to forgive, but also to understand his fellow citizens.”
NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew said, “New Zealand Rugby has enormous respect for Mr Mandela and his incredible contribution to his country and people.
“We have lost a champion for our game, a leader whose inspiration ensured Rugby World Cup in 1995 was a remarkable time for our sport and whose influence on sport has been far-reaching.
“His presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar after South Africa overcame the All Blacks in the Final is a moment that few New Zealanders will ever forget.”
Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said, “On behalf of Australian Rugby, we extend our condolences to the Mandela family, South Africa and the South African rugby community.
“We admire Nelson Mandela’s immense courage and his ability to inspire millions around the world through his remarkable leadership and his ability to unite South Africa through rugby.
“His legacy on our game and our generation will be remembered and honoured.”