South African rugby has led the tributes from the world sport to Nelson Mandela, who has died age 95.
The Springboks paid a moving video tribute to Mandela, recalling a defining moment in the country’s history. Mandela had been elected president a year before South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup. South Africa secured a 15-12 extra-time victory against favourites New Zealand, before Mandela, wearing a Springboks shirt, handed the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar.
South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins said: “All of our lives are poorer today at the extinguishing of the great beacon of light and hope that led the way for our country through the transition to democracy. ‘Madiba’ was a great man of vision, determination and integrity who performed a miracle that amazed the world as much as it amazed his fellow countrymen.”
South Africa’s 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning captain John Smit said: “A man we did not have for long enough, but left a lifelong legacy. Madiba we will never forget.”
South Africa rugby captain Jean de Villiers said: “My lasting memory of Madiba is that of a person who had enormous ability to bring people together.”
International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Mr Mandela was a truly remarkable man. I was honoured to be with him during the historic days of Rugby World Cup 1995 and saw his incredible impact on his nation and his people. His wisdom, intelligence and sheer presence was a wonder to behold.”
Brazil soccer great Pele: “Let us all continue his legacy with purpose and passion.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said: “It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. When he was honoured and cheered by the crowd at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium on 11 July 2010, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced.”