Rugby fan’s 18 months dream

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - CHULUMANCO MAHAMBA [email protected]

HAV­ING un­fet­tered ac­cess to the Spring­bok team is a dream for many fans.

One lucky fan got to live that dream for 18 months.

Mark Nan­car­row, 24, from Ge­orge, West­ern Cape, was se­lected as the MTN Bozza last year af­ter a na­tion­wide se­lec­tion process by MTN, the of­fi­cial team spon­sors of the Spring­boks.

Nan­car­row was tasked with fol­low­ing the team around the world and be the ex­clu­sive so­cial eyes and ears for the Cas­tle Lager Rugby Cham­pi­onship last year un­til the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Nan­car­row said he trav­elled to Ar­gentina, New Zealand and Aus­tralia for the rugby cham­pi­onship, Eng­land, France, Scot­land and Wales for the team’s Novem­ber tour and fi­nally to Japan for the World Cup.

“It’s been an in­cred­i­ble 18-month ex­pe­ri­ence es­pe­cially where the team has gone from los­ing a few games and no one re­ally ex­pect­ing us to get into the World Cup fi­nal and win it,” he said.

The Ge­orge-based man had ac­cess to the team dur­ing pre-game ac­tiv­i­ties, such as sign­ing ses­sions and jersey give-aways, break­fast with coach Rassie Eras­mus, team an­nounce­ments, train­ing ses­sions as well as ex­clu­sive locker room ex­pe­ri­ences.

He said the play­ers were quite re­served ini­tially, but warmed up to him later.

Nan­car­row’s idol since child­hood, Duane Ver­meulen, be­came one of the play­ers he formed friend­ships with and Schalk Brits, as well as the play­ers closer to his age in­clud­ing Damian Willemse and Aphiwe Dyan­tyi.

On the his­toric day when South African be­came the three-time world cham­pi­ons, the die-hard Bok fan said he had never been so ner­vous in his life but he knew they had won af­ter Maka­zole Mapimpi and Ch­es­lin Kolbe scored the game-chang­ing tries.

“We ran down to the field and I was al­ready cry­ing by the 60th minute but it was the best mo­ment of my life,” he said.

He now sports a large Spring­boks tat­too on his right arm from a bet he made with the team.

Nan­car­row’s time with the team has un­for­tu­nately come to an end how­ever he has a jour­nal­ism de­gree from Rhodes and in­tends to work in sports jour­nal­ism in the fu­ture.

@Chu­lu_M

| NHLANHLA PHILLIPS African News Agency (ANA)

MTN’s Of­fi­cial Bozza Mark Nan­car­row fol­lowed the Spring­boks around the world for 18 months.

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