Planet Rugby

Letter of the Week

09th December 2013 13:04

Share:

Planet Rugby mail

Got an opinion? Mail us!

Planet Rugby readers are never short of a voice and our mailbox is seldom empty. This week, a South African reader argues for the Springbok number 6 jersey to be permanently retired!

Got an opinion? We'd like to hear it, so why not send an email to: planetrugby_opinions@teamtalkmedia.com

The Springboks' Greatest No. 6
-By Hagan de Villiers

It was June of 1995 in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was our first truly democratically elected president and the long, slow process of a nation healing was finally under way.

But it wasn't the stuff of storybooks. We weren't quite the Rainbow Nation yet. The untenable human rights violations that occurred during Apartheid left a legacy of enduring pain and sorrow.

It was a difficult time to live in South Africa. A necessary time. But the healing was hard and no one was really certain of our future. Some would even say that we teetered on the brink of civil war.

Somehow, our country hosted the Rugby World Cup that year. Even more surprisingly, a mediocre Springbok team beat France in the semis and earned the right to face the mighty All Blacks in the Final. It was more than any Springbok fan could have hoped for. But it was not what all South Africans had hoped for.

Many black South African rugby fans had supported the All Blacks during the Apartheid era. A snub to the government, and rightly so. Rugby in South Africa was thought of as a white man's sport - the Apartheid sport of the Afrikaaner. There was a great deal of tension and debate surrounding the Springbok emblem. And consequently, the Springbok's didn't have a nation behind them.

That was, until Nelson Mandela changed everything. And I remember the moment clearly. By pulling on the No. 6 Springbok jersey, in an instant, with one beautiful gesture, he showed all South Africans what it would take to heal our damaged country: unconditional forgiveness and love.

To say it was cathartic is an understatement. It meant everything to everyone. And it was while reliving those memories the day after his passing that this silly, controversial and potentially polarizing idea occurred to me:

What if the South African Rugby Union permanently retired the No. 6 Springbok jersey in honour of Madiba's immeasurable contribution to South Africa?

Now, I know this will cause some problems for some people. There will be fierce debate. There will be arguments. Heck, we're South African, there might even be a fist fight.

What number would replace it? Will it be left blank? What about future players that want the number? Are we depriving them? Will the IRB even allow it?

I don't have any of those answers, but I do like to think that a bunch of rugby fans from all walks of life, all races and religions coming together to figure out a solution that will make everyone happy is precisely what Nelson Mandela would want. That's the stuff of storybooks. That's the story of his life.

If you agree with this idea, I could really use your support. My plan is to garner as many names as possible and then approach SARU and the IRB to consider it. Please go to "Madiba No. 6" on Facebook to Like and Share it:

Thank you.

Viva Madiba!

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00