Madiba 90

Boks to beat Aussies for Madiba

2008-07-18 07:55

Special Report

Mandela: SA needs good leaders

Now as much as ever, South Africa needs disciplined leaders, Nelson Mandela has said at birthday celebration in Pretoria.

Perth - The Springbok rugby players have a special place in former President Nelson Mandela's heart and that is why they plan to wish him a happy 90th birthday by beating the Wallabies.

South Africa's rugby stars celebrated Mandela's birthday with cake in Perth on Thursday and sent their congratulations for Friday.

They sang, "Happy Birthday, dear Madiba," from the heart and someone joked that it could have been veteran fullback Percy Montgomery's 90th birthday.

"It's unbelievable - 90 years old!" acting captain Victor Matfield said on Thursday.

"We're happy to be able to celebrate with him.

'Mandela is an icon'

"I think he has already meant so much to South Africa and the Boks."

The Springboks play the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday in their third Tri-Nations Test. Their first Test back in South Africa against Argentina on August 9 will be in celebration of Madiba's 90th birthday.

"After Australia we play Argentina and hopefully we won't disappoint him in that Test either," Matfield said.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers described Mandela as an "icon".

"His name is great wherever he goes and as a South African one wants to live up to his example," De Villiers said.

"It's a great honour for us to celebrate this milestone with him.

'Type of aura around him'

"We can learn from his life how to be forgiving and how to accept other people."

The Boks always win when Mandela attends Tests and De Villiers said there was a simple reason for this: "It's the type of aura he has around him that makes people give their all to make him happy.

"They would even die on the rugby field for him," De Villiers said.

"We are very blessed to be associated with someone like him worldwide and we hope we won't disappoint him anywhere we go."

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