Springbok icon mourned

2015-06-18 06:00
Thomson Magxala played 32 Tests for South Africa during the apartheid era and had his handprints captured in bronze at the opening of the Springbok Rugby Museum.

Thomson Magxala played 32 Tests for South Africa during the apartheid era and had his handprints captured in bronze at the opening of the Springbok Rugby Museum.

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Messages of condolences from all walks of life streamed in for one of rugby’s most capped pioneer black players during the apartheid era, Springbok legend Thompson “Sandi” Magxala, 73, who died in Khayelitsha at the weekend.

He played 32 Tests, six of them against IRB nations, at a time when Tests were few and far between, particularly for black South Africans.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) says he was a tough, skilful and agile lock forward who ended his Test career at hooker. He captained both Western Province and the African Springboks, later known as the Leopards, and was one of the former captains whose handprints were captured in bronze by (Saru) as part of the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum launch ceremony.

“He was a great rugby man. He was a leader among men and a deserved legend in his community who always conducted himself with authority and dignity,” Saru president Oregan Hostkins said.

“I never had the good fortune to see him play but from what I have heard he was a hard man on the field with all the skills to hold down a Test place for a decade. He will be greatly missed.”

The ANC Western Cape, in paying homage to the rugby legend, said Magxala represented an era where only sheer force of will would see a black man achieving even the most modest of dreams. This is an era where black people worked in places, played on fields and obscure corners that could never justify their skills.

“Magxala represented those people who chose to push forward with their aspirations, who chose to endure the blatant racism and the shutting of doors in their faces so that at least those who would came after them would have it a little easier than them,” ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said.

“Hamba Kahle Magxala and we celebrate his life and his legacy, weighty legacy to which all of us are called to uphold and emuate.

“As long as there is still racism in our sports Magxala’s legacy calls us to action. As long as there are still stereotypes and perceptions that feed into selections of our players, that determine who rises and who falls, Magxala’s legacy calls on us never to rest until all players are treated equally and fairly. We honour Thompson Magxala and we are grateful to his family for letting us share Sandi with them.”

Magxala is survived by five children Vuyelwa, Thulisa, Vuyo, Asanda and Nandi and 12 grandchildren and will be laid to rest next Suturday

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