Mighty send-off for Boks

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pretoria - Thousands of Bok fans are making their way to Sandton at the Nelson Mandela Square and along West Street to say farewell to the national rugby team as they leave for New Zealand later this evening.

The event is being organized by the South African Rugby Union (SARU), Lead SA, the Department of Sport and Recreation, Supersport, Absa and Brand SA.

"It's all systems go for the big send-off. All logistics are in place and we are ready," said Lead SA's Yusuf Abramjee.

"We appeal to the public to arrive in their thousands to make the Fans' Farewell a memorable one," he said.

Abramjee earlier met SARU deputy president, Mark Alexander, SARU CEO Jurie Roux, Springbok Captain John Smit, deputy captain Victor Matfield and Absa's Happy Ntshingila to discuss the final plans for the event.

"Everyone is excited and we looking forward to a great send-off. The captain and his players are all waiting to wave goodbye to Springbok fans.

"The response from the public has been fantastic. We thank South Africans for all their support and we hope to see them in large numbers in Sandton and at the Waterfront in Cape Town," said Alexander.

SARU President, Oregan Hoskins, earlier also asked the public to support the Springbok Fans' Farwell.

"Let's give our boys a heroes' send-off [today]. Let's unite and get the entire nation behind the Springboks. Sport unifies us," Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

Mbalula said it was "important for South Africa to be 100% behind the Boks."

Mbalula, SARU officials, the captain and representatives from Lead SA and Absa are expected to address the crowds this evening.

Gates in Sandton are to be opened at midday. No tickets are required for entry into West Street. 

About 1 800 tickets have already been issued for entry into Nelson Mandela Square. 

The programme, which includes live entertainment, starts at 3.30pm at Nelson Mandela Square and it will be shown live on big screens along West Street. There is capacity for 50 000 people and fans have been asked to arrive early to ensure they get good spots.

Various groups, including the Graeme Watkins Project, Axene, Freshlyground, Danny K and Lavuvuzela will perform. The singing of Shosholoza will also feature.

The Springboks will arrive shortly before 5pm. About an hour later, they will walk to the Sandton Gautrain Station and greet crowds along the way. They fly out from ORT International Airport to New Zealand later in the evening.

The team will be accompanied to the airport by a group of 40 children from a school in Alexandra.

There will be a flypass by two Oryx helicopters from the SA Air Force displaying the South African flag and a Springboks flag shortly after 5pm. Four Harvard aircraft will also do a flypass.

The public has been encouraged to use public transport into Sandton. The Gautrain is a convenient way of getting to the Fans' Farwell from the airport, Rosebank, Midrand and Pretoria. Parking in the Sandton area is limited.

West Street will be closed for most of the day between Maude Street and Rivonia Road. Should the crowds increase, adjoining streets may be closed to traffic. 

"We have contingency plans in place," said Saru marketing manager, Sarah Mundy. "The police and metro police will also be out in full force."

Brand SA and the Department of Arts and Culture will be distributing thousands of South African flags, and have asked fans to "wave the flags high."

Lead SA has asked the nation to wear the green and gold T-shirts. 

Lead SA has repeatedly called on South Africans to support the national team. "Stand up, do the right thing and make a difference."

Supersport will start its live broadcast from 4.30pm. Etv and the SABC will also do regular crossings to the Fans' Farewell. Various radio stations, including Talk Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo, will broadcast from Nelson Mandela Square. 

The Cape Town event will also be live on 567 Cape Talk and 94.5 Kfm. The proceedings in Sandton will be shown live on big screens but a special local programme has also been lined up. - BuaNews 

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