PICTURES | Springboks celebrate Etzebeth's 100, honour Professors Gray and Bekker

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Springbok team photograph at Southern Sun Waterfront on 15 July 2022. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Springbok team photograph at Southern Sun Waterfront on 15 July 2022. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The Springboks on Friday honoured leading Sisonke Covid-19 trial principal investigators, Professors Glenda Gray and Linda-Gail Bekker, for their commitment to fighting the pandemic and assisting South African sport through the height of the crisis.

Professor Gray, the president of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), and Professor Bekker, Executive Director at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, were the principal investigators of the South Africa's Phase Three B Sisonke study and played a vital role in ensuring that the Springboks were able to participate in their triumphant 2-1 British & Irish Lions series victory in August 2021.

The two professors had the honour of posing with the Boks for their official team photograph.

It was also a special photo session for Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth and hooker Bongi Mbonambi. Etzebeth will play his 100th Test against Wales on Saturday and Mbonambi his 50th.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 15: Siya Kolisi, Pr
Professors Linda-Gail Bekker and Glenda Gray with Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and coach Jacques Nienaber at Southern Sun Waterfront. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Gallo Images

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 15: Eben Etzebeth a
Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Gallo Images

Earlier on Friday, the Springboks travelled from Hermanus - where they trained during the week - to Cape Town where they had their captain's run ahead of the match.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber expressed his gratitude to Gray and Bekker for assisting the team in the period before their three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions last season.

"The Lions series was vital for the team after a hiatus from rugby in the 2020 season and few months in the 2021 season, and we are delighted to pay tribute to them not only for assisting the team but also for their massive contribution to South Africa in fighting the pandemic."

Professors Glenda Gray and Linda-Gail Bekker with
Professors Glenda Gray and Linda-Gail Bekker with SA Rugby president Mark Alexander. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Gallo Images

Nienaber continued: "The pre-match photograph is a very special occasion for the match-day squad and to have Professor Gray and Professor Bekker join us is a small gesture to show how much we appreciate their contribution to the team and nation.

"Our team slogan is #StrongerTogether and with such remarkable women being such loyal servants to the healthcare industry and getting our population vaccinated in a time when the entire world faced such a crisis, we hope this gesture is as important to them as it is to us."

Saturday's Test at Cape Town Stadium kicks off at 17:05.

Teams:

Springboks

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux

Wales

15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas

Substitutes: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Owen Watkin

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