Get­ting the boot(s) takes blues away for Aussie fan

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Front page - Shaun Gill­ham

It had been a bad day on the field for diehard Aus­tralian rugby sup­porter Lyn­ndadno Oliphant when his team was booted into touch by the Spring­boks in Port El­iz­a­beth on Satur­day last week – but that was only un­til he got the boot him­self.

The 22-year-old Cen­tral res­i­dent’s rugby blues were in­stantly turned into a beam­ing smile when he was gifted a pair of rugby boots by his hero, Wal­la­bies scrumhalf Will Ge­nia, di­rectly af­ter his team had re­ceived its drub­bing at the Nel­son Man­dela Sta­dium.

Ge­nia, who has carved out an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in both Test and Su­per Rugby, is con­sid­ered one of the best play­ers in the world for his po­si­tion.

“It had turned into such a bad day and then it turned into a re­ally good day,” said a de­lighted Oliphant, who is train­ing to be a chef at Rus­sell Road Col­lege.

Oliphant said he had been seated near the Wal­la­bies bench and be­hind the team’s “ex­tra play­ers” when the sur­prise in­ci­dent oc­curred.

“I was feel­ing sad about the game. I had my hands on my head and the guys came off the field when the game was over.

“I re­marked to Will Ge­nia that we [Wal­la­bies and their sup­port­ers] had had such a bad sea­son. Will was busy tak­ing off his boots and then he gave them to me. I was re­ally sur­prised and re­ally pleased.”

He said shortly af­ter be­ing given the boots, an­other sup­porter at the sta­dium of­fered him R3,200 for them.

“I said ‘no way’. I turned it down. Will is my hero, he is a role model and he is some­one I look up to. I started watch­ing the Aus­tralians when I was nine years old and have been a fan ever since.

“I am pas­sion­ate about Australia. I love Aus­tralian sport, Aus­tralian cul­ture and Aus­tralian food. So I will cer­tainly be hold­ing onto these boots.

“Get­ting them was fan­tas­tic for me,” said Oliphant, who hails from the Tsit­sikamma area where he and his cousin first be­came Australia fans.

And while the bright, neonyel­low rugby boots may be a bit too big for Oliphant to fill, he plans to keep them close to his chest as in­spi­ra­tion and as a re­minder of a bad day turned good.

Pho­to­graph: DENEESHA PILLAY

SOLE SUP­PORTER: Avid Aus­tralian rugby fan Lyn­ndadno Oliphant with the rugby boots given to him by Wal­la­bies star Will Ge­nia

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