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 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland vs Tasman19:35
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs Taranaki19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 15 - 17 Ospreys
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26