Fiji Times Logo

Fiji Time: 5:35 PM on Thursday 24 April

/ Front page / Sport

Rugby tribute

Rashneel Kumar
Sunday, December 08, 2013

THE passing away of South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela has touched the hearts of many that are taking part in the Nelson Mandela Bay 7s tournament which kicked off late last night.

Fiji joined hosts South Africa and 14 other teams to pay tribute to the international icon who passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday.

According to a statement from the International Rugby Board: "A moment's silence will be observed before South Africa's first match in the tournament, against Canada at 13:12 local SA time. (12.12am today Fiji time). Later in the day, at 17:02 local time (4.02am today Fiji time), all 16 teams will join together on the pitch, wearing black armbands, for the playing of the South African national anthem, followed by a minute's silence.

Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan described Mr Mandela as "one of a kind" on Twitter.

England 7s speedster Chris Knight yesterday tweeted "will be a privilege to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela & play in the stadium that bears his name for the 3rd leg @IRBSevens series tomorrow!"

Canada's Harry Jones and Welsh James Davies also paid their tribute via the social network.

"Privileged to have the opportunity to play in the Nelson Mandela Stadium tomorrow for the third leg of the @IRBSevens circuit," Jones said in a Twitter post on Friday.

IRB 7s tournament director Beth Coalter said: "It is extremely humbling to be here in South Africa at this time. For these international players it will be a huge privilege to turn out for their countries this weekend and honour the memory of Nelson Mandela in this beautiful stadium named after him".