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Dublin: 3°C Monday 1 March 2021
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Springboks out to honour memory of tragic compatriots

There will be a minute’s silence ahead of tomorrow’s game.

It will be an emotional day for the South Africans.
It will be an emotional day for the South Africans.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THE PRE-GAME NATIONAL anthem is a ritual that often induces a sudden surge of emotion but when Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika rings around Lansdowne Road tomorrow evening, there will be an added element of poignancy for the visitors.

Saturday’s game in Dublin is the first time the Springboks have played since the passing of four South African sporting stars and Jean de Villiers, the captain, revealed it’s been like losing a family member.

Before leaving for Ireland, de Villiers was among the thousands of mourners who attended a public memorial service for South African goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, who was shot dead near Johannesburg.

The Springbok captain paid an emotional tribute to his counterpart at the service also held to remember the life of former world champion 800-meter runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi.

“It’s like losing a member of your family. We are thinking of them and of course their family,” de Villiers said this morning.

In the last fortnight, two former rugby players have passed away. Abie Malan, who captained the Springboks as well as assuming the role of selector following his retirement, died following complications after knee surgery. He was 78.

Tinus Linee, one of de Villiers’ former teammates, died on Monday from motor neurone disease. Although he never won a full cap, the former centre played nine tour games.

A minutes silence will precede kick-off on Saturday and de Villiers admits emotions will be running high as the squad get the opportunity to pay their respect.

“In paying our respects we can show we are an united country again. None of the guys played with Abie (he was 78) but Tinus was my first centre partner at Western Province so I have history with the guy.

“We don’t want to make too much of it, but emotions will be there.”

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Ryan Bailey

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