Boks are tried and tested fighters - Mbalula

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has described the Rugby World Cup defending champs, the Springboks, as tried and tested determined fighters. 

"The Springboks are tried and tested ferocious fighters and seasoned campaigners who have been in the battles trenches on countless breath-taking occasions. 

"After years of isolation and boycott imposed on all sporting codes in our country by the people of the world due to our shameful past, the Springboks returned to the world stage, came, played and conquered," said Mbalula while unveiling the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre at the Rugby World Cup in Wellington, New Zealand, on Wednesday night. 

Ekhaya is a 'home away from home' hospitality programme operating during the Rugby World Cup, and will feature a variety of events and activities until October 9.

Mbalula said the Springboks were entering the 2011 Rugby World Cup as world champions, who defeated the All Blacks in 1995 and brought the Webb Ellis Cup to the African soil for the first time in the history. 

"The Springboks went on to fight titanic battles in France in 2007 and defeated England convincingly, thus bringing the cup back to the African soil again. 

"These Springbok troops have never disappointed the nation. We as South Africans walk tall and loom large in the community of nations as we are elevated by standing on the shoulders of a formidable Springbok side. 

"This team is a team of champions that is born in struggle and baptized in revolutionary fires! However, this team knows the taste and feel of victory and winning," he said.

Mbalula also advise the Boks not to listen to any of the prophets of doom abroad and back at home.

He further said people who want to discuss transformation in rugby and the share of the commercial revenue derived from rugby merchandise must not wait for the World Cup to raise these issues. 

"We have created platforms and forums for us to engage in these debates, like the forthcoming sport and recreation indaba," he said. 

Mbalula said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will meet all the Springbok players at Ekhaya on Saturday.

"We trust that you will enjoy the hospitality presented by Ekhaya Village and you will also in the midst of your fun leverage on the platform created by these social partnerships to support our endeavours and further add impetus to our efforts. 

"We believe we can embark on the journey of nation building and social cohesion through sport and recreation at home and around the globe. This we do in the true spirit of Ubuntu," he said. 

The 2011 Rugby World Cup will kick-off tomorrow, with the opening match between the host New Zealand and Tonga, while the Springboks will face Wales in Wellington on Sunday. - BuaNews 

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