Following the sad news of the passing of Nelson Mandela, this weekend the world of rugby will unite in paying tribute to the former South African President in the stadium that bears his name.
South Africa and 15 other international teams are set to compete in the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on 7-8 December.
A moment’s silence will be observed before South Africa’s first match in the tournament, against Canada at 13:12 local SA time.
Later in the day, at 17:02 local 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.
IRB 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. I am so proud that the Rugby family could play its small part in supporting Mr Mandela’s efforts to establish the new South Africa and that our tournament came to symbolise the emergence of a new nation. He changed the world and we were privileged to witness and embrace his work.”
IRB Sevens 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.”
Final squads declared for SA tournament
On the eve of the tournament in Port Elizabeth, all 16 international coaches have declared their final squads of 12.
South African forward Frankie Horne passed a late fitness to make Neil Powell’s squad, but England have been forced to make a last-minute change with the injured Mike Ellery replaced by John Brake. In all, there are 17 changes from Dubai last weekend and 12 debutants in PE, five of whom line up for Zimbabwe.