Wheel­chair-bound former rugby hero presents Boks match jer­seys

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY

FORMER Spring­bok flank An­dré Ven­ter pre­sented the Spring­boks with their match jer­seys yes­ter­day.

Ven­ter played in 66 Tests for the Spring­boks be­tween 1996 and 2001 and was a mem­ber of the team that won the bronze medal at the 1999 Rugby World Cup in the United King­dom.

He has been in a wheel­chair in re­cent years af­ter be­ing struck down by a de­gen­er­a­tive syn­drome of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem called trans- verse myeli­tis. He is a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man and also a mo­ti­va­tional speaker.

Ven­ter shared some in­spi­ra­tional words with the Spring­boks be­fore he pre­sented the match 23 with their play­ing jer­seys for to­day’s clash with New Zealand.

“I can see there is some­thing spe­cial hap­pen­ing within this group,” said Ven­ter to the cur­rent crop of Spring­boks, and urged the play­ers to em­brace the re­spon­si­bil­ity of wear­ing the green and gold.

“It is im­por­tant to be­lieve in what you’re do­ing and where you’re head­ing. The Spring­boks have an un­be­liev­able his­tory and you must be able to write your own chap­ter.”

Ven­ter had the hon­our of pre­sent­ing the Bok play­ers with their jer­seys on two pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions, and said he was ex­tremely grate­ful and blessed to do so for a third time. The hon­our of play­ing for the team and your coun­try is some­thing that is not easy to de­scribe, ex­plained Ven­ter.

“Only when you’re no longer play­ing and not part of that unique cir­cle any more, that is when it dawns on you how spe­cial the Spring­bok en­vi­ron­ment is. My ad­vice to the play­ers is to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence and to make a telling con­tri­bu­tion to the rich story of the Spring­boks.”

Spring­bok cap­tain Eben Etze­beth de­scribed Ven­ter as prob­a­bly the hard­est man ever to play for the Spring­boks: “He epit­o­mises ev­ery­thing you want in a great Spring­bok, so it was an un­be­liev­able hon­our to re­ceive our Test jer­seys from An­dré.”

Mean­while, SA Rugby said yes- ter­day it had made progress with trade union Cosatu and the Min­is­ter of Sport Thu­las Nx­esi over broad­cast­ing rights fol­low­ing a meet­ing held over two days in Cape Town.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: “The meet­ings were held in a very good spirit and we def­i­nitely made progress in terms of our di­a­logue on the topic of broad­cast­ing rights.

“We have ex­ist­ing agree­ments in place re­gard­ing the broad­cast­ing of rugby in South Africa, which are within the reg­u­la­tory frame­work which gov­erns this. If it was not for the rev­enue generated from these deals, rugby as a sport in our coun­try would not be able to sur­vive. It al­lows us to stay in the game.

“We agreed to meet again with all the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers and to en­gage with them in terms of the me­chan­ics of the broad­cast­ing of lo­cal rugby matches in fu­ture, as well as the fund­ing of sport.

“As SA Rugby, we are al­ways sup­port­ive of and open to di­a­logue on im­por­tant is­sues re­gard­ing our sport here in South Africa.”

See Page 9 and Sport

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