Springboks

Mandela 'saved' the Springbok

Nelson Mandela hands Francois Pienaar the 1995 RWC trophy (Gallo Images)
Nelson Mandela hands Francois Pienaar the 1995 RWC trophy (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springbok emblem would not exist today if is wasn't for Nelson Mandela, former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar said on Tuesday.

VIDEO: De Villiers, Pienaar thank Madiba

Pienaar was speaking to the Beeld website at Mandela's memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto.

The former president died last Thursday at the age of 95.

"I remember the ANC put a lot of pressure on Mandela to do away with the Springbok, because of what it symbolised during apartheid. Mandela said no, the Springbok is a symbol of excellence," said Pienaar.

Pienaar captained the Springboks when they won the 1995 Rugby World Cup final by beating the All Blacks in the final at Ellis Park.

Mandela was present that day and wore a replica of Pienaar's No 6 Springbok  jersey.

"We didn't realise at the time what it meant when he pulled the Springbok jersey over his head in 1995. It started to sink in the next day and now you realise what it really meant."
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