Boks to honour Madiba

Tue, 02 Jul 2013 12:57
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The Springboks will play Argentina at Soccer City to honour Nelson Mandela.

The Springboks will play Argentina at Soccer City to honour Nelson Mandela.

The Boks' opening Rugby Championship fixture was originally scheduled to be played in Bloemfontein, but will instead take place in Soweto as part of the Nelson Mandela Sports Day on August 17.

On the day, South Africa's football team will face Burkina Faso in a friendly and the Springboks will start their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina, both at the 94,000-seat Soccer City on the outskirts of Soweto, a site which also holds significance for sport and for Mandela.

The stadium was where Mandela made his first speech in Johannesburg and held his first major rally after his release from prison in 1990. Soccer City was where Mandela made his last public appearance at the 2010 football World Cup final, the first time the tournament was held in Africa.

South Africa's first democratically elected president has strong ties to sport, having famously supported the rugby team when it won the World Cup in 1995, and then the football team a year later when it lifted the African Cup of Nations trophy at the stadium.

Rugby and football were previously examples of South Africa's racial segregation, with rugby followed by whites and football by blacks until Mandela's act of reconciliation and unity at the '95 Rugby World Cup.

The sports day also will have a music concert and another football game between former South African and Italian internationals. South Africa's continental champion netball team and leading Springbok try-scorer Bryan Habana will be recognized, the sports ministry said.